Articles

Rare Species found breeding in the Santa Monica Mountains for the first time

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National Park Service researchers found something amazing last week in a stream in the Santa Monica Mountains. They found egg masses of the threatened California Red Legged Frog, Rana draytonii. Why is this amazing? Its the first evidence of the frog breeding in the mountains since scientists have started to trans-locate them to the mountains.

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Before the relocation of the frogs, no California Red legged Frogs have been seen in the Santa Monica Mountains since 1970s. The California Red legged Frogs are faced with habitat lose from urbanization, agriculture, mining, and more.

Frog of the Week

Mexican Burrowing Toad (Rhinophrynus dorsalis)

Mexican Burrowing Toad
Mexican Burrowing Toad – photo by Vicente Mata-Silva

leastconcern
Common Name: Mexican Burrowing Toad
Scientific Name: Rhinophrynus dorsalis
Family: Rhinophrynidae
Country Location: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States
United States Locations: Texas
Size: 3.1 inches or 8 cm

The Mexico Burrowing Toad is most evolutionary distinct species of frogs with over 190 million years of independent evolution. It is believed that the a fruit bat, polar bear, killer whale, kangaroo and human are more similar than the Mexican Burrowing Toad to any other frog. It is the only living species in the family Rhinophyrnidae, while the rest of them died out millions of years ago.

As their name says, they are burrowing toads that live underground during the dry season. They have several adaptations to their underground life. They have strong hind legs with tubercles to help them with digging.  Their weird nose helps them eating termites, their primary food. During the wet season, the toad emerges from their burrows to breed. The males call in pools of water trying to attract mates. Once the female selects their mate, the male embraces her and grasps her around the waist (inguinal amplexus). They will lay their eggs and then leave the water body, letting their offspring fend for themselves. The eggs don’t take long to hatch and the tadpoles complete their metamorphism in one to three months.

Articles

Endangered Frogs and Toads of the US

Endangered Frogs and Toads Found in the United States

These are the native frogs and toads of the United States that are listed on the endangered species list.

llanerocoqui

The Llanero Coqui (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi) is found in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is known for its Coqui frogs and this species is the smallest. Habitat lose, pollution, and climate change are all factors in making the Llanero Coqui endangered. They also have low reproductive output, only around 3-5 eggs per reproductive episode which also hurts its chances of surviving.

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The Dusky Gopher Frog / Mississippi Gopher Frog (Lithobates sevosa) is found only in one ponds in Mississippi. It is estimated that there’s less than 250 frogs left. Habitat lose specifically old growth pine forests and the decrease in numbers of Gopher Tortoises are responsible for the frog being listed as endangered.

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The Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa) is found in California. Invasive fish such as trout, Chytrid fungus, and livestock grazing has contributed to the decline of the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog.

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Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog (Rana sierrae) is endemic to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and Nevada. It faces the same threats as the Mountain Yellow-legged Frog.

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Wyoming Toad or Baxter’s Toad (Anaxyrus baxteri) is an extremely endangered frog. Its classified been classified as extinct in the wild since 1991. It’s found in Wyoming as the name suggests. Captive breeding of the toad has kept them alive in zoos and they have been reintroduced to the wild but chytrid fungus keeps killing them.

Arroyo_toad

The Arroyo Toad (Anaxyrus californicus) is found in California and Baja Mexico. The most important threats to the toad are human based such as construction of roads, mining, grazing by livestock, off road vehicle use, and agriculture. Other threats include invasive species such as American Bullfrogs, drought, wildfires, and light and noise pollution,

houstontoad

The Houston toad (Anaxyrus houstonensis) is native to Texas. Habitat lose, pollution, and drought have decreased the toads numbers. Captive breeding programs have been releasing toads back into the wild to help increase their numbers.

Frogs by Country

Frogs and Toads of Ireland

Frogs and Toads of Ireland

Ireland only has one frog species and one toad species, making it a pretty crappy place to go froggin.

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photo by Piet Spaans

The Natterjack toad (Epidalea calamita) is the only toad species native to Ireland. The Natterjack toad is listed as endangered in Ireland but with the help of conservationists, they are making a come back.

commonfrog

European Common Brown Frog (Rana temporaria) is the only frog species native to Ireland. It can sometimes be confused with toads because of their brown color but the European Common Brown Frog doesn’t have dry, warty skin.

New Species

Scientists Discover New Genus of Toads

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Researchers discovered two new species of toads. One was located in a cave on a volcano and the other in some trees nearby in Indonesia. The teams named the toads “puppet toads”. DNA tests showed the two toads to be distinct from other toads and the scientists placed them in a new genus called Sigalegalephrynus. They also found a few more toads that they claim to be part of the genus but they haven’t described them yet. The toads were named Sigalegalephrynus mandailinguensis and S. minangkabauensis. 

Source: http://www.bioone.org/doi/10.1655/Herpetologica-D-16-00041

Frog of the Week

Eastern Narrowed Mouth Toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)

Eastern Narrowed Mouth Toad
photo from the USGS
leastconcern

Common Name: Eastern Narrowed Mouth Toad
Scientific Name: Gastrophryne carolinensis
Family: Microhylidae
Location: United States
US Locations: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
Introduced Locations: Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico
Size: 1 – 2.1 inches (25 – 53 mm)

The Eastern Narrowed Mouth Toad is found naturally in the southeastern United States but have been introduced to some Caribbean Islands. They are a fossorial species, often hiding in burrows of other species or under logs and leaf litter. The toads come out during the night to hunt for food items such as ants, termites, or small beetles.

photo by Fredlyfish4

The males can be distinguished from females because their throats are dark and highly pigmented while the female’s throat doesn’t have this coloring. The breeding season is between March and October, depending on location. More southern locations breed earlier than northern locations. The male frogs start calling starts after a heavy rain fall event in temporary pools created by the rain. Once, the female arrives, the male will grasp them from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Total number of eggs laid is all over the place. Some say 850 and other say at least 1000. Who knows how many eggs are laid but its a lot of eggs. Neither parent will provide any parental care.

The eggs hatch fast, only 2 days after being laid. The tadpoles take 20 – 70 days to complete their metamorphosis. Interesting fact, the tadpoles of the toad are filter feeders of plankton.