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Wildlife Conservation Society has been running an amphibian workshop here in Cali this week and I was asked to help with husbandry, enclosure design and hands on sections. It’s been a great several days here in Cali with 37 students from all over this amphibian rich country! The Cali Zoo is hosting us and providing a great space and staff to expose students to a lot of husbandry and veterinary techniques and ideas. There are many folks working already in ex situ and in situ programs here in Colombia and many shared their experiences with us on day one! More to come in a day or so.

 

Jennifer Pramuk, Curator at the Bronx Zoo, shares some info with students

 

 

Students in Cali during the water quality hands-on section

 

Some interesting news from researchers working in Panama.

Dr. Karen Lips and her team documented the association of disease and the massive decline of amphibians within a protected national park in El Cope, Panama in 2006 (Lips, K. R., Brem, F., Brenes, R., Reeve, J. D., Alford, R. A., Voyles, J., Carey, C., Livo, L., Pessier, A. P. & Collins, J. P. 2006. Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 103:3165-3170.). Further findings just published by Andrew Crawford, Karen Lips and Eldredge Berminhama in PNAS have shown through DNA barcoding techniques that although 30 species are known to have disappeared from this study site, nearly a dozen more may have disappeared before they were even described to science!

I ran across this recent press on the subject following the publication of their paper and thought I’d share it. http://www.physorg.com/news198764525.html

More information on this publication can be found here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/07/09/0914115107

Knowing that habitat loss is the number one threat to amphibians and thinking about how many species we KNOW are lost to habitat loss, it makes me think about how these new data may indicate that even more species lost via destruction of their homes is even higher than we know! Not only are species going missing faster than we discover new ones, the rate is much higher than I would have thought.

Researchers in Canada have found, for the first time ever, a photosynthetic symbionts in a vertebrate. A unicellular green alga,was found living INSIDE the cells of developing Spotted salamander embryos while still in the eggs! How these algae get inside vertebrate cells has not been determined. However, previous research showed that eggs that did not contain algae in the surrounding jelly mass were slower to develop than those which had algae present.
There are ways in which vertebrate cells eliminate foreign material and this discovery could help scientists explore what regulates this process.

Read more at: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100730/full/news.2010.384.html

Dr. Karen Lips and her team documented the association of disease and the massive decline of amphibians within a protected national park in El Cope, Panama in 2006 (Lips, K. R., Brem, F., Brenes, R., Reeve, J. D., Alford, R. A., Voyles, J., Carey, C., Livo, L., Pessier, A. P. & Collins, J. P. 2006. Emerging infectious disease and the loss of biodiversity in a Neotropical amphibian community. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 103:3165-3170.). Further findings just published by Andrew Crawford, Karen Lips and Eldredge Bermingham in PNAS have shown through DNA barcoding techniques that although 30 species are known to have disappeared from this study site, nearly a dozen more may have disappeared before they were even described to science!

I ran across this recent press on the subject following the publication of their paper and thought I’d share it: http://www.physorg.com/news198764525.html

More information on this publication can be found here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/07/09/0914115107

Knowing that habitat loss is the number one threat to amphibians and thinking about how many species we KNOW are lost to habitat loss, it makes me think about how these new data may indicate that even more species lost via destruction of their homes is even higher than we know! Not only are species going missing faster than we discover new ones, the rate is much higher than I would have thought.

A recent announcement of plans to publish a call for comments on how to regulate and reduce disease spread through the amphibian trade has been met with a lot of speculation and worry. We have put together a Fact Sheet on the subject that explains how this came to be, what is currently going on and how interested folks can have their voices heard. It can be found at: http://www.amphibianark.org/pdf/US_amphibian_trade_proposal.pdf

Taking 5 minutes to read this attachment carefully and I would bet a clearer, calmer picture lies ahead!

In a world-first for zoos, a nest of abandoned mountain chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) tadpoles has been moved from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust to Chester Zoo, and the tadpoles are now being cared for by an adoptive mum. Female mountainchickens normall care for their young, and it is unusual for a female to abandon her offspring. The feamle is now feeding her new brood as if they were her own.

Mount chickens are native to Montserrat and Dominica, but their numbers in the wild have breen drastically decreased due to hunting for food and by chytrid fungus. A number of institutions, including Durrell and Chester, are working collaboratively on a breeding program for the species, as well as undertaking research into the species in the wild.

I have written two posts on atrazine, the common herbicide. One post  mentioned a report that atrazine affects organ development in frogs. The other refers to a study showing that frogs’ immune systems are suppressed when exposed to atrazine.  Now there is a report by the Huffington Post that atrazine levels in human drinking water exceed federal safety limits in four states.

Records that tracked the amount of the weed-killer atrazine in about 150 watersheds from 2003 through 2008 were obtained by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund under the Freedom of Information Act. An analysis found that yearly average levels of atrazine in drinking water violated the federal standard at least ten times in communities in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, all states where farmers rely heavily on the herbicide.

Frogs are the canaries in the coal mine, remember? It’s best not to ignore the canaries. The frogs warned us, and those warnings are not being heeded.

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