30 August 2011

Have I Got Newts For You – August

In the first of a regular news round-up, Conservation Communication Officer Lucy takes a look at some of the herpetological stories that have been hitting the headlines this month…

Setback for Yellow-Legged Frog Conservation Project

One of America’s most ambitious amphibian conservation projects has suffered a devastating setback after over 100 yellow-legged frogs Rana muscosa died in captivity. The frogs were descended from those rescued from the San Gabriel Mountains in 2009 after their habitat was destroyed by fire. The endangered amphibians had only recently metamorphosed and the cause of death is unknown. The breeding programme at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo now has just two frogs left alive. There are thought to be fewer than 200 yellow-legged frogs left in the wild after populations suffered declines due to fires, mudslides, disease and predation by non-native trout, bullfrogs and crayfish.
Source: LA Times: http://lat.ms/p18lOO

Snake Seen on Sewer CCTV

Occasionally we hear about amphibians or snakes that appear in people’s toilets but for the first time Wessex Water have captured a grass snake on their sewer CCTV. The utility company has been using CCTV to monitor and maintain sewers since in the 1990s and although they regularly see rats, bats and toads this is the first time they’ve recorded a grass snake. It’s likely the snake entered through a road drain in search of amphibian prey.
Source: BBC News http://bbc.in/qeLJU0

Nine New Species of Fanged Frog Discovered

An expedition led by biologists from Canada’s McMaster University has discovered nine new species of frog on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. And what makes these amphibians even more unusual is that they all have fangs. In total 13 new species of fanged frog were recorded on the island, nine of which are new to science. It’s not yet clear what the frogs use their fangs for but one possibility is for catching prey in fast-moving water.
Source and photos: National Geographic http://bit.ly/pqypfT

Grass snakes were recorded in the RSPB's Summer Wildlife Survey for the first time this year
RSPB Survey Shows Amphibian Decline in UK Gardens

The RSPB’s Summer Wildlife Survey is not just about birds and this June participants were asked to record all sort of species they’d seen in their gardens. Although frogs were seen regularly in around a third of gardens and toads in 14%, worryingly there was a decline in sightings of both species compared to two years ago. Grass snakes, which were recorded for the first time this year, were reported in just 2% of gardens.
Source: RSPB http://bit.ly/ocLR1f

Asia Escapes Amphibian Fungus… So Far

Deadly amphibian fungus chytrid is responsible for wiping out amphibians in Australia, Europe, and the Americas but has been conspicuously missing from Asia, despite the continent claiming some of the greatest amphibian diversity in the world. It’s likely a lack of surveying is partly responsible so a team of researchers set out to find out more. They documented around 3000 amphibians and encouragingly only 2.2% registered positive for the fungus. The only countries that hosted the disease were the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. The scientists are now looking into why much of the continent has so far been spared despite conditions seeming ideal.
Source: Aubobon Magazine http://bit.ly/nqRBJ9

You can donate to support Froglife's work conserving amphibians, reptiles and their habitats here.

No comments: