Frog of the Week

Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea)

photo by LiquidGhoul

Common Name: Green and Golden Bell Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria aurea
Family: Hylidae – True Frog family
Locations: Australia
Introduced Locations: New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Vanuatu
Male Size: 2.2 – 2.7 inches (57 – 69 mm)
Female Size: 2.5 – 4.2 inches (65 – 108 mm)

While the Green and Golden Bell Frog is a member of the tree frog family, they are a semi-aquatic species of frog. They like to perch on vegetation around water. The frogs breed during summer time from October through March. Reproduction is pretty standard for these fellas. The males will call from the water and the female will select a mate. Then the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position and she will lay her eggs. The female frog lays between 3 – 10 thousand eggs. The male will then fertilize the eggs. Neither parent provides any care for their offspring.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is naturally found along the southeastern coast of Australia but has expanded its range to other Pacific Islands including New Zealand. In New Zealand, they are found on the northern half of North Island. It’s hard to tell if these frogs are causing any problems in these new habitats.

The Green and Golden Bell Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The frogs face a variety of threats. The wetlands that the frogs live in are being drained to make room for more houses. The Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) has been introduced to the wetlands as well to control mosquito populations. Sadly, these fish also feed on tadpoles of frogs. Also Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) has been introduced to Australia and they can feed on adult frogs. Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen that is devasting frog populations around the world, has been found in the frogs. This is likely causing some declines in the species.

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Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

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Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi)

photo by Kris Urquhart/USFWS

Common Name: Dixie Valley Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus williamsi
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Nevada
Size: 2 inches (50.8 mm)

The Dixie Valley Toad is a relatively new species, only being described in 2017. Before, it was considered an isolated population of the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas). Physical and genetic tests revealed that it was in fact, its own species. Dixie Valley Toad is physically different than the Western Toad. They have gold specks on its body and is smaller than the Western Toad.

Most life history of the Dixie Valley Toad is presumed to be similar to the Western Toad. They are a nocturnal species, living under rocks or burrowed in the dirt during the day. Reproduction is external. The males will call to attract females. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp the female from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. No parental care has been shown.

While only just described, the toad is already a candidate for the Endangered Species List. The exact number of toads are unknown but their range is small. Their habitat is already threatened by a geothermal energy plant that has plans to go up right next to it.

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Chile Mountains False Toad (Telmatobufo venustus)

photo by wikiuser Cipsdesign 
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Chile Mountains False Toad
Scientific Name: Telmatobufo venustus
Family: Calyptocephalellidae
Locations: Chile
Size: 2.8 inches (71 mm)

The Chile Mountains False Toad gets its name from its large, oval paratoid glands that make it look like a toad. They are found along the western slopes of the Chilean Andes, living up to a mile ( 1,700 metres) above sea level. There are only three known locations of the frogs. The frogs are found along rocks surrounding streams.

The Chile Mountains False Toad is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Much of its habitat has been converted into pine and eucalyptus plantations. Electric dams have been built in parts that haven’t been converted. Also trouts have been introduced into water bodies that the frogs live in. These trouts eat the frogs and their tadpoles. The only stable populations of the frog are found in the Altos de Lircay National Reserve. Better protection of the frog and their habitat is needed to save them.

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How to Help Stop Invasive Species

With the spread of invasive species, you have to wonder what can I do to help stop them? I will help answer this today.

Clean Your Boots / Shoes / Hiking Gear

Invasive species can hitchhike around the world on your gear and shoes. It is thought that Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease that is killing off many frog species, is thought to have been moved around from researchers not cleaning their shoes / gear off between field trips. Cleaning off your gear and shoes can help stop invasive species. Also washing your dog off after hiking helps stop the spread of invasive species.

Clean Your Boat

Once again, invasive species, such as Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), can hitchhike from lake to lake on your boat. Cleaning the outside of your boat when you take it out of the water and draining all the water out is needed to help stop the spread.

Don’t Release Your Pets into the Wild

This is probably the easiest way to stop the spread of invasive species is to not release them into the wild. Some pet species, such as the Red Lion Fish (Pterois volitans) or the Burmese Python (Python bivittatus), have overtaken native populations of animals and are causing population declines. This is why it is very important to not release your pets.

Don’t Move Firewood

Invasive species, such as the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis), can hide in firewood and be transported into a new environment. Please buy firewood close to your campsites to help stop the spread.

Join an Invasive Species Removal Event

Sometimes you gotta roll up your sleeves and take the trash out yourself. Nature Centers often host invasive species removal events that you can volunteer at. They will help you learn how to identify invasive species and how to remove them properly. You can then take this knowledge with you back to your home.

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Invasive Species Week

It is National Invasive Species Week! The week was created to raise awareness for the problems that invasive species create. What is an invasive species? It is a non-native living organism that has been introduced to a new environment by humans that is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive species can be fish, plants, insects, fungus, bacteria, and everything in between.

This week I will highlight invasive species that are causing problems, mostly for amphibians, here and on my social media accounts. Please stay tuned for more!

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Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Oregon Spotted Frog
Scientific Name: Rana pretiosa
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States and Canada
US Locations: California, Oregon, and Washington
Size: 1.75 – 4 inches (4.4 – 10.1 cm)

The Oregon Spotted Frog is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and as threatened by the United States federal government. The frogs are most likely are gone from California. The two primary threats are introduced species and habitat destruction / alteration. Much of the wetlands that they call home have damaged due to construction of dams and water removal for farms and cities. Some of the remaining habitat has been invaded by the American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) or introduced game fishes. These introduced predators feast on the Oregon Spotted Frog and their tadpoles. Removing these predators would help the frog’s numbers bounce back.

photo by USFWS

Breeding takes place after the snow melts, generally in February and March at low elevations and May and June at higher elevations. Breeding only lasts 2 to 4 weeks long. Males will gather in the shallows of marshes and lakes at call for the females. Females will select a male to mate. They will then enter the amplexus position and the females will lay their eggs and the male will fertilize. Females lay around 650 eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles between 18 and 30 days. The tadpoles then take 110 to 130 days to complete their metamorphosis.

Frog of the Week

Coquí Llanero (Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi)

photo by the USFWS

Common Name: Coquí Llanero, Plains Coquí, or Puerto Rican Wetland Frog
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus juanariveroi
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Average Male Size: .58 inches (14.7 mm)
Average Female Size: .62 inches (15.8 mm)

The Coquí Llanero was only recently in 2005 by Neftalí Rios. It is found only in the wetlands in a old navy base in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Sadly, it is already listed as a federal endangered species and as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. They are listed due to their small habitat that is threatened by development. The wetlands have been designed as critical habitat but that offers little protection.

Now onto the biology of the frog. Like all members of the family Eleutherodactylidae, the Coquí Llanero lays eggs that directly develop into froglets, skipping the tadpole stage. Though, they lay one of the smallest clutches of eggs, ranging from 1 to 5. Interestingly, they only lay their eggs on the leaves of the Bulltongue Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia). Breeding can happen year round though more clutches are produced in the warmer, wetter months. The call of the Coquí Llanero is the highest frequency of all amphibians on Puerto Rico, ranging between 7.38 and 8.28 kHz. This makes the calls nearly impossible to hear over all the other noises in the wetlands.

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Barton Springs Salamander (Eurycea sosorum)

photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Common Name: Barton Springs Salamander
Scientific Name: Eurycea sosorum
Family: Plethodontidae – Lungless Salamander family
Locations: United States – Texas
Size: 2.5 inches (6.4 cm)

The Barton Springs Salamander is a federally endangered species and listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Vulnerable to Extinction. They were thought to be found only in the outflows of the Barton Springs in Austin, Texas but a population has been found near Drippings Spring. They are listed due to their small habitat that is sensitive to environmental pollutants. There is a popular naturalistic swimming pool in the Barton Springs that houses the salamanders. While swimming in the water is said not to bother the salamanders, the cleaning of the pool can kill them. The Austin Blind Salamander (Eurycea waterlooensis), another endangered salamander, also lives in the Barton Springs.

Like all members of the family Plethodontidae, the Barton Springs Salamander has no lungs. Unlike most members of the family, the salamander is neotenic and keeps its larval characteristics, most notably, the gills. They are a fully aquatic species of salamander, never leaving the water. The salamanders are found usually under rocks or buried down in the gravel, from several inches to 15 feet deep!

Toad Tuesday

Yosemite Toad (Anaxyrus canorus)

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photo by William Flaxington

Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Yosemite Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus canorus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – California
Size: 3.3 inches (84 mm)

The Yosemite Toad is found in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range at elevations between 8,500-10,000 feet. These toads are a diurnal species, active during the day compared to most toads that are nocturnal. They are a relatively long lived species, capable of living 15 years. The trade-off is that toads take a while to reach sexual maturity, over 3 years. Breeding season is from May to August. Typical breeding sites are shallow pools and small, slow moving streams. Females can lay up between 15000 to 2000 eggs. These females do not mate every year, another trade-off from their long lives. The males and female toads look very different compared to each other.

The Yosemite Toad is listed as a federally threatened species by the United States government. It is most likely going to be added to the endangered species list. There are a lot of reasons for the decline in the toads. Habitat degradation by cattle grazing is one of the main reasons. Other reasons include the introduction of non-native game fish, droughts increased by climate change, and possibly climate change. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) designated 1.8 million acres of land as a protected area for the Yosemite Toad and other threatened species.