Science and Technology News

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Declining Frog Species

Image 1: A female Panamanian gold frog (Atelopus zeteki, in the family Bufonidae). This picture was taken in Altos del Maria, east of EI Cope, Panama, in 2005, after the chytrid fungus epidemic had passed through this site.

Image 2: A Bob's robber frog (Craugastor punctariolus, in the family Craugastoridae). This picture was taken in 2002 near EI Cope, Panama, two years before the chytrid fungus outbreak. Today, the species not only may be extirpated from this location, but globally as well. Researchers are looking for populations of the species to find out its current status.

Image 3: A horned marsupial frog (Gastrotheca cornuta, family Hemiphractidae). This photo was taken in 2002 near El Cope, Panama, two years before the chytrid fungus outbreak.

First noted when the golden toad and about half of the frog species disappeared in Monteverde reserve in Costa Rica in 1987, the killer fungus has been spreading eastward through the Central America highlands and also through a large portion of the Andes (likely from a separate introduction) ever since.

Research by Andrew J. Crawford, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of the Andes, Columbia, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, showed that the species declined by 88 percent. Today, A. zeteki can still be found in El Cope or Altos del Maria but rarely, and no sign of the population recovering has been observed.

You can read more about the deadly chytrid fungus in the National Science Foundation press release "Frog Killer Caught in the Act." To learn more about Crawford's research and what you can do to help with frog species decline, visit his website Here.

[The fieldwork for this research was supported by National Science Foundation grants GEO 02-13851, DEB 02-34386, DEB 01-30273 and a Small Grant for Exploratory Research, IOS 99-96355.] (Date of Image: 2005)

Credit: Andrew J. Crawford, Universidad de los Andes

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