Amphibian news round-up October 2016

by Jeff Dawson - October 20, 2016

ecnomiohyla-rabborum-brian-gratwickeHere’s a brief round-up and overview of some of the amphibian news stories, have been in the press over the last month, highlighting the plight of amphibians globally and the need for conservation efforts such as SAFE.

It’s not just in far-flung parts of the world that amphibians are in trouble, they are also suffering in the UK with a new study showing that numbers of common toad Bufo bufo have declined by over two-thirds in the last 30 years. Habitat loss and degradation, climate change causing milder winters, emergent diseases as well as road mortality are all though to be factors influencing the decline. Read the paper here.

September saw the latest amphibian species to go extinct when the world’s last known Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog Ecnomiohyla rabborum died at Atlanta Botanical Garden’s. The species was from the cloud forests of Panama where it has been wiped out by the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and not seen there since 2007. This fungus has been responsible for possibly hundreds of amphibian extinctions; some we may not even know about. Durrell, through our work on the mountain chicken, will be investigating ways to enable a chytrid threatened species to persist in the wild with this fungus, which will hopefully help inform conservation actions for multiple other species being impacted by chytrid.

In Peru this month a pollution event in a tributary of Lake Titicaca has killed thousands of frogs, presumed to be mostly the Critically Endangered Titicaca water frog Telmatobius culeus (read full story here). This species, which Durrell is working on in Bolivia with the Bolivian Amphibian Initiative, is primarily being threatened by over-harvesting for human consumption but this story is a stark reminder that there are often multiple threats which combine to push a species towards extinction. Our work to understand and address the over-harvesting threat is therefore even more crucial to prevent declines and enable populations to rebound from such catastrophic events.

Photo credit: By Brian Gratwicke from DC, USA – Ecnomiohyla rabborum (Rabb’s Fringe-limbed Treefrog) Uploaded by Tomer T, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18339583