Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Save the Amphibians!

In the past 30 years, there have been major reductions in the amphibian populations around the world. These reductions have been due to viruses and other pathogens, climate change, and habitat destruction. Habitat destruction has been one of the most significant sources of declines in amphibian populations but pathogens are steadily becoming more evident as a major cause of these declines. One of the big pathogenic amphibian killers has been a fungal skin disease called chytridiomycosis. This fungus was originally discovered to be a cause of amphibian declines in Australia. Now it has been found that it is the source for declines all around the world.

There have been many species of frogs, salamanders, and caecilians that have gone extinct due to these various changes in habitat, climate, and pathogens. At least 120 species of frogs have gone extinct in Panama alone since 1980. Today there are conservation agencies and zoos that are making an effort to save some of the more critical frog populations in Panama. They are trying to develop techniques that could be used to try and bring the frog populations back through captive breeding.

One species in particular, Hyloscirtus colymba, has been of interest because of its rapidly declining wild population. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project took on the project of trying to breed this frog in captivity. Apparently this frog is very hard to maintain and to keep alive in captivity. It has been a great accomplishment of this conservation project to successfully breed and keep 28 adult frogs alive.

They did some extensive work on figuring what the best techniques would be to care for the frogs in order to keep them healthy in captivity. Because they are so hard to keep alive, there has been very little work done with this particular species. These conservationists have come up with several ways to keep these frogs healthy and fit enough to reproduce. The techniques that they have perfected could possibly be used to help save other critically endangered frog species.

Visit the ScienceDaily article for further information

1 comment:

  1. Countering amphibian decline is going to be one of the most challenging tasks in conservation biology. Chytrids appear to be a main causative agent in some areas, but there are also other causes of decline for some species. A large concerted effort is needed, and it seems like this is an area where effective communication to the public can help mobilize action or resources. David Wake at Berkeley and Andrew Blaustein at Oregon State are two researchers among many that have been raising awareness and concern over global amphibian declines.