Re-issue of expired Care2 Article by Tex Dworkin and Mark Mandica

Re-issue of expired Care2 Article by Tex Dworkin and Mark Mandica

The article that my dear friend Tex and I worked on 4 years ago is no longer accessible on the Care2 site where it was published. I thought I would post it here, as it provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with conservation minded folks, who were not necessarily aware of the global amphibian extinction crisis. You can still find remnants of the original article on Pintrest.

Plus, it was the first time I ever had my cell phone photography featured in a publication. It’s a very nice piece, and brought a lot of attention to amphibians. I thought, given all that has been happening with quarantines and COVID-19, it would be a good time to share some of my favorite frog pictures.  Some of the language has been updated
———

Meet 10 Stunning Frogs Whose Populations are Dwindling

Slope
Snouted Glass Frog
, Cochranella euknemos

Conservation
Status: Decreasing


Glass Frogs
(family Centrolenidae) are so named due to the translucent skin on their
bellies. This allows enough light to pass through the frog to disguise it from
predators.


The Slope Snouted
Glass Frog was one of the Panamanian species rescued by the Atlanta Botanical
Garden and Zoo Atlanta in 2005, when the deadly amphibian disease,
chytridiomycosis (chytrid) was wiping out as much as 85% of the frogs from that
region. This incredible species, and many others are held in a biosecure
facility at the Garden called the frogPOD where they can be studied and bred in
captivity until they can one day be returned to the wild in Panama.

For the
past 25 years or so, amphibians have been disappearing globally from developed
areas as well as pristine environments. 43% of the world’s 7,000+ amphibian
species have been documented as in decline or already extinct. Scientists have
identified multiple anthropogenic factors contributing synergistically to
amphibian declines, such as habitat loss, pollution, outdoor cats,
collection, acidification
of the environment, and infectious disease. 

Blue-sided
Leaf Frog
, Agalychnis
annae

Conservation Status:
Endangered


Blue-sided
Leaf Frogs are still declining in the wild.

Predominantly
from Costa Rica

Leaf Frogs
or Monkey Frogs (Family Phyllomedusidae) are so named because they often lay
their eggs on leaves or other structures above water. When the eggs hatch the
tadpoles drop down into the water below.

Leaf and
Monkey Frogs are a specialized type of Tree Frog (related to family Hylidae) from Central
and South America.

Staff at the Amphibian Foundation has initiated an amphibian monitoring program in
the metro Atlanta area which enlists staff, volunteers and concerned ‘citizen
scientists’ to join together as a community in order to monitor our local
amphibian populations. If you are in the greater Atlanta region, you can go to
maamp.us to learn more. There are many
amphibian monitoring programs throughout the US, and it is a great way for
anyone passionate about amphibians to contribute to their conservation. Two
current ways to get involved in virtually any area is to install the Herp
Mapper
program and submit photo or audio data with your phone, or see where the
nearest Frog Watch initiative is to your community and if there isn’t already
one in your area — start one!

Black-eyed
Leaf Frog
, Agalychnis
moreletii

Conservation
Status: Critically Endangered


Black-eyed
Leaf Frogs are a critically endangered species of Leaf Frog (subfamily
Phyllomedusinae). Their eyes are such a deep dark red, that they appear black.

The species
is native to Belize,
El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and
Mexico
but is declining rapidly in the wild placing this species an imminent risk of
extinction.

Lemur
Leaf Frog
, Agalychnis
lemur

Conservation
Status: Critically Endangered


Staff at the Amphibian Foundation has been working with Lemur
Leaf Frogs for over 11 years, and have donated over 400 baby frogs to various
institutions and conservation agencies. The hope is that once the wild home
range of Lemur Leaf Frogs is once again safe for the species, we will have
large numbers to return and repopulate protected areas of Panama and Costa
Rica.


One of the
smallest species of Leaf Frogs.

They have
excellent camouflage and actually sleep on the underside of leaves during the
day.


A nocturnal
species, they turn from bright green to a brownish red at night


Granular
Glass Frog
, Cochranella
granulosa

Conservation
Status: Data Deficient


Granular
Glass Frogs are one of the frog species that most resemble Kermit.

All frogs
have granular glands throughout their skin, but these glands are clearly
visible on the back of C. granulosa.


This
species lays its eggs on leaves over streams. When the eggs hatch, the tadpoles
drop down and complete development in the streams. This can take well over a
year!


The
tadpoles appear pink, but really their skin is also clear and glass-like so the
blood vessels are visible – giving the larvae a pink hue.


Not enough
information is known about the populations of Granular Glass Frogs to know
whether they are stable or in decline


 

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed
Tree Frog
, Ecnomiohyla
rabborum

Conservation
Status: Extinct


**This caption was updated. Five months afte rthe article was published, the last known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog died in Atlanta. The species is now believed to be extinct. To read the article on his passing, click here**

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed
Tree Frog (named after devoted amphibian conservationists George and Mary Rabb)


Is believed
to be extinct and hasn’t been seen or heard in Panama since 2007


The
probable cause of the frog’s extinction is the emergent infectious amphibian
disease — chytridiomycosis (chytrid)


A large
frog, almost the size of a human hand


Frogs of
the genus Ecnomiohyla are specialized Tree Frogs (family Hylidae) known
for their ability to glide by using expanded finger and toe webbing.


The last
known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog resided in the frogPOD at the Atlanta
Botanical Garden. He was a male frog.


He hadn’t
been heard calling until 2014, when a mysterious call emanated from the
frogPOD. Mark Mandica, the Amphibian Conservation Program’s manager was able to
quietly approach and make a recording. The call of this frog had never been recorded
before. The recording can be heard on YouTube by clicking the link below:


 Another way
you can do something directly to benefit your local amphibian communities is to
make your yard more amphibian friendly. More often than not, it involves doing
LESS yard work than you are currently doing. Encouraging amphibians back into
your property to can help reduce insects (1,000 amphibians can eat 5 million
insects a year!) and help re-connect amphibian populations which have been
fragmented by human land development. There are resources for how to encourage
amphibians in your yard available at
backyard.frogsneedourhelp.org

Gopher
Frog
, Lithobates
capito

Conservation
Status: Threatened


The Gopher
Frog is the rarest frog in Georgia. The Amphibian Foundation and partners
have been head-starting this species for over 10 years.


Head-starting
is a conservation tool where eggs are collected from the wild. Then, the eggs
are cared for until they hatch, and the tadpoles are raised through
metamorphosis. The froglets are then released back into the wild into protected
habitats.


Gopher
Frogs are imperiled in part because they are indigenous to the Long Leaf Pine
ecosystem, which has been reduced by 97% of it’s original range in the
south-east US.


Gopher
Frogs inhabit the burrows built by other imperiled species living in the Long
Leaf Pine ecosystem such as Gopher Tortoises and Pocket Gophers. Gopher Frogs,
and hundreds of other species like Indigo Snakes and Eastern Diamondback
Rattlesnakes share the Gopher Tortoise burrows to escape from the heat and wildfires
which occur regularly in the region.


Gopher
Frogs breed in ephemeral, or seasonal wetlands that only hold water for short
periods of time. They will not breed in permanent wetlands or ponds that have
failed to dry out prior to their breeding season. Many species of amphibian
rely on these seasonal pools to breed, and while it adds pressure — the
tadpoles have to complete metamorphosis before the ponds dry out — it does
insure they can develop in the absence of predatory fish which obviously can’t
persist in a wetland which dries regularly.

 FYI: The images above and below are illustrations!

 

Argentine
Horned Frog
, Ceratophrys
ornata

Conservation
Status: Near Threatened, In Decline


The
Argentine Horned Frog is basically just a big mouth with tiny arms and legs.
They are ambush predators and dig into the ground so just their eyes are poking
out. From there it can grab just about anything: insects, small mammals, birds
or even each other with it’s large sticky tongue and hold it in place with it’s
sharp teeth and blade-like jaw bone.


This image
is an illustration by the Amphibian Conservation Program’s manager, Mark
Mandica who was inspired to paint a portrait of the frog after he
underestimated it and it jumped up and latched onto his finger.


The frog
depicted in this illustration was also in the local Atlanta, GA newspaper when
it had its 30th birthday!


Unlike most
frog larvae which are vegetarians, the tadpoles of Horned Frogs are vicious
predators with teeth that are used to eat anything in the pond with them … including
each other.


 

Fringed Leaf
Frog
, Cruziohyla
craspedopus

Conservation
Status: Decreasing


A beautiful
and mysterious frog, little is known about the Fringed Leaf Frog. They live
high in the canopy of the Amazon forest and rarely, if ever come to the ground.


They are
tree hole breeders and use the small amount of water that collects in trees
where fallen branches can leave a hole. The tadpoles develop in these micro
habitats and emerge as one of the most beautiful frogs in the world


They are
named from the prominent fringe on their legs. This fringe breaks up the
outline of the frog making it look like part of the leaf, or lichen growth
rather than a frog. This frog hides in plain sight all day while it sleeps on
top of large leaves invisible to predators.


While at the Atlanta
Botanical Garden, we were one of the first institutions to breed this species in
captivity.


 

Black-legged
Poison Dart Frog
,
Phyllobates bicolor

Conservation
Status: Near Threatened, In Decline


The Poison
Frogs (family Dendrobatidae) are a colorful and fascinating group of
amphibians. Frogs in this family secret poison from their granular glands with
a level of toxicity that varies from species to species.


Their bold
colors (reds, blues, yellows and oranges) are warnings to predators that the
frog is toxic and dangerous. These colors are the opposite of camouflage — the
frogs are trying to stand out — and the warning colors (or aposematic
coloration) effectively convey the message to predators before any attempt is
made to eat the frog.


Even though
there are almost 200 species of Poison Frog, only a few species are lethal to
humans (like the one pictured here). The most toxic Poison Frogs can kill a
half dozen adult humans just by touching it!


These
select few are also known as Poison Dart Frogs because they are used (by native
South American Amerindians) for blow dart hunting. Once a dart is tipped with
the secretions from one of these frogs, it can kill for up to 6 months.


Despite the
incredible lethality of these frogs, they are still endangered and declining.
Their toxicity doesn’t aid them against the pressures that all amphibians are
facing globally such as habitat loss, emergent infectious disease, pollution
and harvesting.

 If you would like to join us in this conservation mission, please join us on Patreon

Leave a Comment