Uncategorized

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.

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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.

Uncategorized

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.

conservation

Romeo, the Sehuencas Water Frog, finds his Juliet

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photo by Robin Moore

Have you heard of Romeo, the world’s loneliest frog? Romeo is a Sehuencas Water Frog (Telmatobius yuracare), an aquatic frog species only found in Bolivia,and was thought to be the last of his species. He has been alone in the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny in Bolivia for 10 years. Romeo’s home habitat has been lost and damaged due to agriculture and logging. Water pollution, Chytrid fungus, a deadly disease for frogs, and invasive trouts all don’t help the frogs either. The future is not looking great for the Sehuencas Water Frogs.

Scientists with the help of  the Global Wildlife Conservation and the Museo de Historia Natural Alcide d’Orbigny, set up a Match.com profile page for Romeo to help raise funds to find him a lover. On Tuesday, Teresa Camacho Badani, the chief Herpetology of the Museum, announced that they have found Romeo his Juliet. Besides just finding a Juliet, they found four other frogs, including another female. The new frogs are currently in quarantine so that they get used to their new habitat and to insure that they are disease free. They plan to introduce Romeo and Juliet on Valentine’s Day and hopefully, they will start breeding. The scientists hope to help re-establish populations of the Sehuencas Water Frog with a captive breeding program.

turtle tuesday

Turtle Trouble

Everyone loves turtles with their cute little shells but did you know that many turtles are in serious trouble? There are 243 living species of turtles and 154 of them are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as vulnerable or worse. That’s 63% of them that are close to becoming extinct. Why are turtle populations in troubles? There are many plenty of reasons including habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and harvesting for consumption, pet trade, and medicine.

Family Friday

Harlequin Toads (Atelopus)

Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Number of Species: 97
Location: Central and South America

The members of the genus Atelopus are commonly referred to as the Harlequin Toads or Stubfoot Toads. There are many members of the genus but the majority of them are endangered of becoming extinct. Many species in the genus haven’t been seen in decades. The main culprit of their status is Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal pathogen that affects amphibians. Also habitat lose, pollution, and invasive species are also not helping these toads. These toads are often brightly colored and beautiful so it would be shame if they went extinct.

Herper of the week

Herper of the Week: Dr. Helen Meredith

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Each week I select a “Herper” of the Week. These individuals come from all sorts of backgrounds but they all have one common interest – “herps” (reptiles and amphbians). Hopefully, you will learn about them and their important work.

This week’s Herper of the Week is Dr. Helen Meredith, the Executive Director of the Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA). She earned her Ph.D from the  Institute of Zoology (ZSL) and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. Her thesis was focused on developing evidence-based conservation decision making practices.

Before becoming the Executive Director of the ASA, she coordinated the EDGE Amphibians initiative at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). EDGE is a global conservation initiative that focuses on threatened species that have unique evolutionary histories. It is a wonderful program.

 

 

Frog of the Week

Patagonia Frog (Atelognathus patagonicus)

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Photo by Boris Blotto

endangered
Common Name: Patagonia Frog
Scientific Name: Atelognathus patagonicus
Family: Batrachylidae
Location: Argentina
Size: 2 inches or 50 mm

The Patagonia Frog has two different forms, an aquatic one and a land form. The aquatic form has  smooth and looser skin than the land form which has more rough, tight skin. The aquatic form also have a orange coloration to their stomach from their different diet from the land form. The aquatic form eats more amphipods from the waters that carotenoids which give the orange hue.

The Patagonia Frog is endangered because of numerous threats. Both Chytrid Fungus and Ranavirus have been problems for the frog. Introduced fish (perch, trouts, and salmons) have also been lame and been eating the frogs.

Family Friday

Telmatobiidae

Number of Genera: 1 – Telmatobius
Number of Species: 62

Telmatoibiidae is a new family of frogs from South America. They are found up high in the Andes Mountain Range. The family used to be part of the family Leptodactylidae before being moved to it’s own family in 2011. Many of the members of the family are semi aquatic and some are even fully aquatic such as the Lake Titicaca Water Frog. Many of the members of the family are threatened with extinction from Chytrid Fungus, habitat destruction, and invasive trouts.