We don’t know how North American crayfish hopped the pond, but scientists have announced that crayfish are proliferating in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain — and destroying salamanders and other amphibians in the process. Humans in Europe haven’t yet developed a taste for crayfish, so there is no natural predator of the invaders. Story here. This is ironic since in America we can’t get enough of crayfish, or crawfish, as we celebrate Mardi Gras.


AP Photo/Bill Haber

Mississippi gopher frogs are finger snacks for forest predators and “that’s the nature of the business if you’re an amphibian.” So says biologist Mike Sisson in an Associated Press report about the relatively good summer that the nearly-extinct gopher frogs have had in Harrison County, Mississippi. I didn’t know that this species’ call sounds like someone snoring. There’s a joke in there somewhere. Here’s the story, and here’s an excerpt:

This year, for a change, nature gave a bit of a break to one of the nation’s most endangered species.

The frogs breed only in ponds so shallow they dry up in summer. Hot, dry springs have stranded tadpoles every year since 1998, when 161 froglets hopped out of Glen’s Pond in coastal Harrison County, Miss.

Scientists believe fewer than 100 mature adults live in the wild. Five zoos — in New Orleans, Memphis, Detroit, Miami and Omaha, Neb. — have another 75 frogs.

“Our efforts have managed to stave off likely extinction but there’s a long way to go,” said Joe Pechmann, an associate professor of biology at Western Carolina University who has studied the frogs since 2002.

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Photo from Memphis Commercial Appeal

We wrote months ago about the dire situation facing the Mississippi Gopher Frog. But now the Memphis Zoo has announced the first captive breeding program for the species. This is going to be a very encouraging year of perhaps hundreds of small and large steps to avert the mass extinction. Excerpt from the Commercial Appeal:

If frogs can have high hopes, then those of the endangered Mississippi gopher frog are resting with the Memphis Zoo, the first zoo to successfully breed the vanishing amphibians.

Using in-vitro fertilization techniques learned while breeding Wyoming toads in 2004, the zoo has produced 93 Mississippi gopher tadpoles, a number nearly matching the 100 frogs still living in the wild.