Uncategorized

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)

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photo by the USFW

vulnerable
Common Name: Leatherback Sea Turtle
Scientific Name:  Dermochelys coriacea
Family: Dermochelyidae

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is the largest living species of turtle in the world, weighing up to 1,500 pounds and over 7 feet long. It is also the only extant species in the family Dermochelyidae. The turtle is named after its unusual leathery shell.

The Leatherback Sea Turtle is in trouble of becoming extinct. Some of the threats to them are plastic and chemical pollution, becoming bycatch of fisherman, over-harvesting of their eggs, and climate change. We need to tackle these issues to secure a future for the turtle.

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Other Amphibian of the Week

Many Lined Salamander (Stereochilus marginatus)

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photo by Todd Pierson

leastconcern
Common Name: Many Lined Salamander
Scientific Name: Stereochilus marginatus
Family: Plethodontidae
Location: United States – Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Size: 4.5 inches

The Many Lined Salamander is the only member of the genus Sterochilus. It is found along the coast of southeastern United States in the Atlantic coastal plain. The Many Lined Salamander is more aquatic than most Plethodontid salamanders, they are usually found in swampy streams and pools. They also can lay their eggs in water, and the eggs will hatch into the free swimming larvae stage. It can take the larvae one to two years to fully undergo metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Maud Island Frog (Leiopelma pakeka)

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photo by D. Garrick

vulnerable

Common Name: Maud Island Frog
Scientific Name: Leiopelma pakeka
Family: Leiopelmatidae
Location: New Zealand
Size: 1.8 inches

The Maud Island Frog is an ancient frog found only in New Zealand, on Maud Island and Motuara Island. These frogs have a long lifespan, averaging 33 years. Scientists aren’t even sure that the Maud Island Frog is a distinct species of frog. When the species was orginally discovered, it was thought to be a subspecies of the Hamilton’s Frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) until researchers looked at the muscle proteins of the frogs and determined that they were different enough to be two different species. However, new genetic tests showed that there isn’t much difference between the two. Who knows if it will stay as a species.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Reticulated Siren (Siren reticulata)

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photo by Pierson Hill

Common Name: Reticulated Siren
Scientific Name: Siren reticulata
Family:  Sirenidae
Location: United States – Florida and Alabama
Size: 2 feet

The Reticulated Siren is a new species of amphibian! It was only recently described by researchers David Steen, Sean P Graham, Richard Kline, and Crystal Kelehear. The Reticulated Siren is a highly aquatic species of amphibian, living at the bottom of ponds and swamps. Its currently found in southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Like all Sirens, the Reticulated Siren lacks hind legs and has gills. They have a long eel like body.

Frog of the Week

Bhupathy’s Purple Frog (Nasikabatrachus bhupathi)

photo by Jeegath Janani

Common Name: Bhupathy’s Purple Frog
Scientific Name: Nasikabatrachus bhupathi
Family: Nasikabatrachidae
Location: India
Size: 2 inches

There used to be just one species of Purple Frog until genetic tests showed there was another species: the Bhupathy’s Purple Frog. Some of the other differences between the two species are their calls and breeding seasons. Bhupathy’s Purple Frog breeds during the northeast monsoon while the Purple Frog breeds during the southwest monsoon.

The Bhupathy’s Purple Frog spends their life underground. They rarely come to the surface and its generally only to mate. The conservation status of the frog has not be accessed but the regular Purple Frog is listed as Endangered so its likely the Bhupathy’s Purple Frog isn’t doing well either. The frog is named after Dr. Bhupathy Subramaniam, a famous herpetologist who died accidentally from a fall.

New Species, Uncategorized

New Siren Species: the Reticulated Siren

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photo by Pierson Hill

A new species of siren was discovered in southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. There were rumors about an undiscovered large, spotted salamander that lived in the area. A few samples of the species was recovered back in the 1970s but people thought they were just bizarre Greater Sirens (Siren lacertina). The species was re-discovered by former Herper of the Week, David Steen Ph.D., when he was trapping turtles on a military base in Florida. He noticed that it was different from other sirens he has seen. Steen and other researchers (Sean P Graham, Richard Kline, Crystal Kelehear) performed genetic tests and found it to be its own species. They named it the Reticulated Siren because of its color pattern.

One of the interesting facts about the new Siren is its size. Its a large salamander, with average size of the specimens collected being around a foot long but some were two feet long. It is one of the largest animals discovered in North America in over a hundred years. You are probably wondering how a two foot long salamander hasn’t been discovered until now. Sirens are a fully aquatic species and live in murky waters, making them hard to see. With the discovery of the Reticulated Siren, the Siren Family, Sirenidae, there are now 5 different species but who knows? There could be even more hiding.

You can read the full article here – https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0207460

Other Amphibian of the Week

Abe’s Salamander (Hynobius abei)

Abe's_salamander,_Hynobius_abei
photo by Japanese Ministry of the Environment 

CR
Common Name: Abe’s Salamanader
Scientific Name: Hynobius abei
Family: Hynobiidae – Asiatic Salamanders
Location: Japan
Size: 1.9 – 2.8 inches snout to vent, 3.2–4.8 inches total length

The Abe’s Salamander is only found in Japan, in the secondary bamboo forest or deciduous hardwood forests. The salamander’s populations aren’t doing that well. There aren’t that many left and they are in danger of because extinct due to habitat loss. The breeding season for the salamander starts during November and December, when there is snow. Females can lay up to 109 eggs during the season. Larvae doesn’t undergo metamorphosis until late summer or even until next year. The Abe’s Salamander is named after Yoshio Abe, a Japanese zoologist.

Frog of the Week

Gopher Frog (Lithobates capito)

photo by Kevin Enge

nearthreatened
Common Name: Gopher Frog
Scientific Name: Lithobates capito
Family: Ranidae
Location: USA – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee (extremely rare)
Size: 2.5 – 3.75 inches

The Gopher Frog gets it name from the fact that they live in Gopher Tortoise’s (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows. Sadly, both the Gopher Frog and the Gopher Tortoise aren’t doing so hot. The habitat that these buddies used to live in was destroyed to make room for development. Fire suppression is another cause of the Gopher Tortoise and Frog decline. The tortoise enjoys wiregrass and herbaceous vegetative covers which gets decreased when invading hardwoods take over due to the fire suppression. It also changes the the quality of the temporary breeding pools that Gopher Frogs use.

The Gopher Frog has two subspecies – the Carolina Gopher Frog (Rana capito capito) and the Florida Gopher Frog (Rana capito aesopus).  The Florida Gopher Frog is darker in color, ranging from grey to brown while the Carolina Gopher Frog is lighter, varying from white, brown, and yellow.

Frog of the Week

Pine Barrens Tree Frog (Hyla andersonii)

photo by R. Tuck of the USFWS

nearthreatened

Common Name: Pine Barrens Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla andersonii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Location: United States – Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, and South Carolina
Size: 1.5 to 2 inches

The Pine Barrens Tree Frog is a rare tree frog from eastern United States. There are only three areas that they are found, the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the Sandhills of the Carolinas, the Florida Panhandle into southern Alabama. They are listed as an endangered species in New Jersey, while listed as significantly rare in North Carolina, and threatened in South Carolina and Alabama. In Florida, their status is rare. One cool thing about the Pine Barrens Tree Frog is they actually like to lay their eggs in more acidic ponds ranging from 3.8 to 5.9 pH.

Uncategorized

Trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum

I visited the Milwaukee Public Museum to see the new exhibit on frogs. The exhibit was pretty good, except they didn’t include the conservation status of the frogs that they showed. I didn’t take pics of all the species of frogs so go check it out if you are in the area.

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The first frog was the Smoky Jungle Frog. It’s a beautiful frog from South America.

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Next was one of the many species of Monkey Tree Frogs (Phyllomedusa bicolor). They too are found in South America.

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Here’s a Tomato Frog that was hiding from me. I forgot to write down what exact species it is but all 4 members of the Tomato Frog genus Dyscophus are found in Madagascar.

 

There was two big Ornate Horned Frogs They are good boys.

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There was a group of Borneo Eared Frogs (Polypedates otilophus). Never seen these frogs before but they were pretty cool even though they were sleeping.

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Another new species that I didn’t know about is the Smooth-sided Toad (Rhaebo guttatus). These guys are actually really big, they can reach over 6 inches long.

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These Chinese Gliding Frogs (Rhacophorus dennysi) were pretty cool to see even though they were asleep. Sadly, none of them were gliding.

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The Asian Tree Frog (Pedostibes hosii) is native to southeastern Asia. It’s pretty awesome.

 

Here are some of the Poison Dart Frogs they had. I am stupid and forgot to write down all the species they had.

 

Last, we have the Amazon Milk Frog (Trachycephalus resinifictrix). These guys are cute and they can grow a lot bigger than I thought they could.