Veronica from Bolivia just told me about a frog I hadn’t heard of before — Telmatobius culeus, or the Lake Titicaca frog.  This species has to deal with very thin oxygen high in the Andes, so mother nature has given it special characteristics. The following is excerpted from Livingunderworld.org. Note that the species is considered vulnerable and yet people are reportedly eating them.  Full article HERE.

Telmatobius culeus is referred to as the Lake Titicaca Frog, and is only found in Lake Titicaca. Because of the lower oxygen content in and around the lake, T. culeus must have an efficient method of obtaining the necessary amount of oxygen for survival. To do this, T. culeus respires mainly by means of cutaneous respiration (breathing through the skin), is exclusively aquatic, and possesses large folds of skin all over the body that make it appear flabby and prehistoric. The extra folds of skin increase the amount of oxygen absorbed through the skin because they increase the surface area to volume ratio; a characteristic that is also observed in other permanently aquatic amphibians. These frogs also do “push-ups” that create small disturbances in the water, which increases oxygen flow. The unique blood of T. culeus also aids oxygen absorption. The blood has the smallest erythrocytes (red blood cells) of all the amphibians, and the highest amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin are molecules in the blood that bind to oxygen, so the more hemoglobin an animal has, the more oxygen it can carry in the blood at one time. Because of their aquatic nature, these frogs have evolved reduced lungs, and rely almost entirely on cutaneous respiration.

Although classed as “vulnerable” with C.I.T.E.S., T. culeus are eaten in restaurants in Bolivia and Peru, and are a popular tourist dish. Recently, they have been collected for use in what the natives call frog juice, or Peruvian viagra. The frogs are literally put in a blender, and consumed.

Kevin Zippel from Amphibian Ark just emailed that the chytrid (Bd) fungus that chokes the breath from 80% of the world’s amphibian species it touches has landed in the Philippines. As you will read in THIS STORY, it’s been present for a least two years there. Five indigenous species are affected so far: the Luzon striped frog (Rana similis) has “practically disappeared from the lowland forests of Mount Labo on the southeast tip of the main Philippine island of Luzon”; the Luzon stream frog (Rana luzonensis); two species of the Luzon fanged frog (Limnonectes woodworth and Limnonectes macrocephalus); and the Puddle frog (Occidozyga laevis).

A Sunday salute to the Ohio State scientists trying to bring the wood frog back to Franklin County, Ohio. This story from the Columbus Dispatch is very interesting.

With hours to go before the close of April 30, I proudly report that Frogmatters has had a record month for visits. I know it’s not up there with Treehugger.com or Mongabay.com, but it’s great to see continued and growing interest in the amphibian crisis — even after 2008 which was declared the Year of the Frog. Continued thanks to Amphibian Ark for all they are doing.

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I just got an email message from Jeff Corwin (OK, a lot of people got the same email) on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife. Jeff has been a great friend to Amphibian Ark. He’s taped PSAs you can find on YouTube. He talked about Amphibian Ark and held up a Panamanian Golden Frog on the Ellen Degeneres show. Here’s the email message from him:

Dear Jeff,

Yesterday, I was in Washington, DC to testify on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

My message was simple and urgent: Within my youngest daughter’s lifetime, 20-30% of the world’s known species may be on the brink of extinction if we do not act now to address the impacts of global warming on our wildlife.

Congress has heard from me. Now they need to hear from you, Jeff.

Please send your U.S. Representative a message today and urge him or her to dedicate just 5% of the anticipated revenue from new global warming cap and trade legislation to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems in a warming world.

As a wildlife biologist and host of my own show on Animal Planet, I’ve seen the devastating effects that global warming is already having on our world’s wildlife and their habitat.

I have been to the North Pole to study the iconic polar bear, whose habitat is melting away before our eyes.

I’ve traveled the world studying the decline in the planet’s already-vulnerable amphibians — a decline that threatens up to one-third of our amphibian species. And scientists fear that climate change could dramatically accelerate these devastating losses.

But you don’t have to go to the ends of the Earth to find the effects of global warming on our wildlife. The pika and the wolverine in the Rockies, our nation’s waterfowl, even fish, shrimp and oysters are already in trouble.

Join me in urging Congress to protect wildlife threatened by global warming. Please send a message to your U.S. Representative today.

As a biologist, I firmly believe that we should not only reduce carbon emissions that are fueling global warming, but also expand our scientific understanding of global warming’s impacts on the living world.

Without this knowledge, we cannot develop and implement an effective strategy to safeguard our precious wildlife in a warming world. Please urge Congress to take action for our wildlife today.

These are exhilarating and challenging times that we live in. But with the help of caring people like you, I know we can secure the resources, knowledge and action that we need to give our vulnerable wildlife a better chance to survive the threat of global warming.

Sincerely,

Jeff Corwin

What Jennifer Holland has reported in National Geographic is one of the best summaries of the amphibian crisis I have read. The photos are beautiful, the anecdotes fresh and unforgettable. You need to read it. Click HERE.

“If this was killing mammals or birds in the same way it’s killing amphibians, millions and millions would have been spent on it.” So says Andrew Cunningham from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in discussing the swath of amphibian death that the chytrid fungus has caused on Montserrat. The species quickly disappearing is the mountain chicken frog (Leptodactylus fallax). Full story HERE.

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