Click link below for video

Click link below for video

You have to see this video from BBC showing tadpoles swarming their mom to feast on her infertile eggs. This rare glimpse is something you wouldn’t be able to see if it weren’t for the captive breeding programs of organizations to save endangered species. It’s all connected to the umbrella program of Amphibian Ark.

Excerpts from the story:

The remarkable footage was recorded at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in Jersey, which took in 12 of the rescued frogs. Twenty-six others went to Parken Zoo in Sweden, and 12 are now housed in ZSL London Zoo.

“We thought that the eggs would come out and drop to the bottom of the nest and then the tadpoles would start eating them. But the footage shows about 40 tadpoles congregating around the female and eating the eggs as they come out of the female’s body.”

There are about 6,000 species of amphibians on the planet today. By the time we pass on and leave the world in our children’s hands, one-third to one-half of the species will have gone extinct. It’s projected by scientists to be the most significant mass extinction since the dinosaur. Maybe you’ve heard about this. Maybe not. But following is a straightforward accounting of the tectonic changes behind the massive, global disappearance of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians.  The way to act is to read up and help Amphibian Ark at www.amphibianark.org.

Chytrid, the AIDS of amphibiaChytrid is a fungal borne disease that is toxic to 80% of amphibian species. For thousands of years, it was confined to a section of Africa. The African Clawed Frog was one of the lucky 20% of species that was immune to the disease. But when the medical industry discovered African Clawed Frogs could be used as an ingenious pregnancy test for humans, they shipped the frogs out of Africa to all parts of the world. The species carried the Chytrid fungus with it, and the disease exploded. Most recently it has decimated the chicken frog population of Montserrat, and crossed the Panama Canal. Here are links to more information:

Watch for future posts that complete the five reasons:

Habitat destruction –

Pollution –

Global Warming –

Indifference –

From the American Airlines in flight magazine, American Way, a full feature on the amphibian crisis. Here’s nice excerpt mentioning Amphibian Ark:

The idea of the Amphibian Ark initiative is to get out in front of the population crashes and to collect healthy frogs, whisk them to safety, and establish breeding stocks — with the hope of reintroducing the species to the wild when the coast is clear. In Australia, scientists have modified shipping containers to create frog “clean rooms” in the field. In the United States, they’ve saved the Wyoming toad in captivity, but it has disappeared from the high plains, and reintroduced populations keep encountering the deadly fungus. Biologists are also rushing to respond as the fungus attacks the boreal toad in Colorado and the red-legged frog in California’s Sierra Nevada. And many more frog rescues are underway in Costa Rica and several other countries.

Full story HERE.

Figuring out the “why”, “how”, “how fast” and “where next” behind the mass extinctions facing amphibian species is what Dr. Karen Lips does for a living. Now with the University of Maryland (previously with Southern Illinois University), Dr. Lips is a forensic ecologist. Cool job description. She has been charting the path of the spread of the killer fungus chytrid, and helping people understand what happens to ecosystems when frogs disappear. Here’s a new story about her work: read HERE. Excerpts I found interesting:

Once chytrid hits a region, the amphibian population can be wiped out within four months.”The rate of spread is about 22 km/year, so we have less than five years before they are all gone,” Lips says, referring to the remaining frog populations in Central America where she has been working as a”forensic ecologist” to predict the spread of chytrid throughout Costa Rica and Panama over the past 10 years.

“Once amphibians are eliminated from an ecosystem, everything else changes,” she explains. “Snakes disappear, algae grows, sediments accumulate and affect water quality, we don’t know yet how many of these changes are irrevocable.”

“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.

chicken-frogmontserrat

Nice to see this effort from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums:

Zoos and aquariums across the country will hold events and activities to raise awareness about amphibian conservation. Scheduled events include live encounters with amphibians, informative amphibian exhibits, programs on “frog friendly” backyards, zookeeper talks about amphibian ecosystems, crafts, contests, games, prizes, and all kinds of family fun.

AZA
AZA

It is estimated that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, with their demonstrated expertise in endangered species breeding programs and commitment to conservation, are meeting this challenge. Learn more at http://www.aza.org/ConScience/spring-forward/.

WHAT: Spring Forward for Amphibians!

WHEN: The switch to Daylight Savings time on or before March 8th.

WHERE: At an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium near you http://www.aza.org/FindZooAquarium/.

CONTACT: Courtney Jordan, AZA, 301-562-0777, ext. 235

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit www.aza.org.

Report this morning from San Diego’s CW6 News, reporter Elsa Sevilla. See video on TV station’s Web site here.

A fungus in amphibians is killing thousands of animals around the world.

The statistics are alarming. Twenty-five of the world’s top scientists, experts and amphibian veterinarians gathered at the San Diego Zoo to discuss solutions to the problem. It’s all part of a three-day conference at the Zoo which ended Wednesday.

“Populations worldwide have declined because of this disease, Chytrid Fungus,” says Doctor Allan Pessier, a scientist at the San Diego Zoo.

Scientists say the deadly disease is not only killing amphibians, but thousands of species are becoming extinct, too. The fungus attacks the amphibian’s skin. In frogs, it can be deadly because frogs use their bodies to drink water. The disease can be transfered to other amphibians as the fungus survives in spores that live in the water. Both amphibians in captivity and those in the wild are known to be infected. The amphibians at the San Diego Zoo have been tested for the fungus and they tested negative.

“You go to a place that was healthy six months ago and is now covered with dead frogs all over the ground and the populations never recovers,” says Doctor Joseph Mendelson from the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia.

Mendelson conducts research at the Atlanta Zoo, but also travels around the world to see first hand what has happened to hundreds of species that are now extinct because of the disease.

It is not known exactly where the disease originated, but some experts believe it may have first been detected in Africa. Currently, South and Central America, and Australia are now seeing an alarming number of amphibians die due to the fungus.

“The Experts on the issue are here at the San Diego Zoo meeting with each other, exchanging ideas, developing tests, developing strategies, ways to combat this,” says Anne Redice of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, or IMLS, in Washington, D.C.

Thanks to a grant from IMLS, scientists, experts and veterinarians gathered for the three-day conference this week. They are looking for solutions to eradicate the deadly disease, but they are also looking to create a standardized method of testing in order to stop the fungus from spreading from amphibians in the wild to those who have been relocated to zoos around the country and the world.

“We are losing part of our eco-system. It will have ramifications on how the eco-system functions,” says Mendelson.

Hoping to prevent a major impact on the environment, scientists say they are literally, scrambling for answers to save thousands of species from extinction.