29 September 2011

Have I Got Newts For You - September

Your monthly round up of reptile and amphibian articles, by Conservation Communication Officer Lucy.

 Possible biological control for deadly amphibian fungus

There’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon… A species of Daphnia (water flea) has been found to eat the fungus that is thought to be responsible for wiping out amphibian populations across the world. Zoologists at Oregon State University found that Daphnia will eat the zoospore (free-swimming stage) of the chytrid fungus, in trials in the laboratory. The team will now start field studies to determine if this tiny invertebrate could hold the key to controlling this devastating fungus. Meanwhile, scientists from Cornell University, New York, have identified genetic factors that make some frogs immune.

Common toads are susceptible to the fungus (photo by Lucy Benyon/Froglife)

Frogs that look like moss!

Paignton Zoo’s Amphibian Ark conservation centre is currently home to an unusual species of frog – mossy frogs are native to Vietnam and certainly live up to their name. They’re a semi-aquatic, semi-arboreal species that curl up in to a ball and play dead if threatened.
Source: Paignton People (with photos)

Biologists burn mountains to bring back lizards

A 30 year study by the University of Washington has revealed that landscape-level burning of entire mountains and valleys has helped bring back populations of collared lizards in the Ozarks region. It turns out that improved fire-fighting measures led to the extinction of around 75% of lizard populations as slow-growing red cedars took over the glades making them shady and uninhabitable.
Source: Futurity

Critically endangered Siamese crocodiles hatched in captivity

The Wildlife Conservation Society has successfully hatched 20 Siamese crocodiles at Laos Zoo. Classified as ‘critically endangered’ due to overhunting and drastic loss of habitat, these freshwater reptiles can grow up to 10ft in length. The hatchlings will be released in their second year, as part of a new project trying to save the species.
Source: Wildlife Extra

Rare toad, not seen for over five years, spotted in Chilean National Park

The elusive Bullock’s false toad had not been seen since 2005 when it was re-discovered in the Nahuelbuta National Park in Chile. Researchers believe this could be the only surviving wild population of this critically endangered toad. Dependent on fast-flowing streams for laying its eggs in, this little toad has been severely affected by the establishment of pine plantations in the area and other activities which have led to streams silting up. Bullock’s false toad is ranked fifth in the 100 amphibian species most at risk of extinction, according to the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE project.
Source: I Love Chile

Camilla kisses a toad

Well not quite, but the Duchess of Cornwall did get up close and personal with the amphibian on a recent visit to Walworth Garden Farm in Southwark, South London. A keen gardener, the Duchess was unperturbed when a child handed her the toad, which she then carefully released under a near-by log. “There you are, toad in the hole,” she joked.
Source: Daily Mail

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