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Critically Endangered Frog Claws Its Way toward Recovery

Lake Oku clawed frog

The evolutionarily unique frogs of Cameroon’s Lake Oku have no tongues, claw-tipped toes and 12 full sets of chromosomes. What the Lake Oku clawed frogs (Xenopus longipes) don’t have, however, is a lot of habitat in which to live. They only exist in a tiny mountaintop lake more than 2,200 meters above sea level. Although [...]

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In Limbo Since 1991, the Oregon Spotted Frog Finally Gets Protected Status

Oregon spotted frog sq

It only took 23 years but the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) has finally gained protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The small, aquatic frogs—which only reach about 100 millimeters in length—have been considered candidates for protected status since 1991. The species has probably already disappeared from its former range in California and in [...]

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Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog

panamanian golden frog

These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years. Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads! Where found: The [...]

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Fire Salamanders in the Netherlands Wiped Out by Newly Discovered Fungus

fire salamander

Five years ago the Netherlands was home to a small but healthy population of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra terrestris). That is no longer the case. The first dead salamanders, their bodies lacking any visible signs of injuries, turned up in 2008. More mysteriously dead salamanders appeared in the following years, while field surveys found fewer [...]

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Hellbender Head Start: Raising Giant Salamanders in the Bronx

Eastern Hellbender sq

Four years ago 41 hellbender salamander larvae from western New York State arrived at their temporary home in New York City. Originally collected as eggs near the Allegheny River, the hellbenders—also known as snot otters or devil dogs—were hatched at the Buffalo Zoo and then transferred to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, where they [...]

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Weird Frog Discovered by Charles Darwin May Be Extinct

southern darwin's frog

It looks like we’ve lost another one. The weird and unusual Chile Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma rufum), whose tadpoles grew inside the vocal sacs of adult males, appears to be extinct: a four-year quest failed to turn up any evidence that the species still exists. The frogs were last seen in 1980. As you might guess [...]

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The Last 50 Corroboree Frogs and Other Links from the Brink

southern corroboree frog

A colorful frog, some Hawaiian mollusks and California’s threatened fish are among the endangered species in the news this week. The Frog Extinction Crisis Continues: How much longer until we have to say good-bye to the southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree)? The rare Australian amphibian, one of the world’s most colorful and well-known endangered species, [...]

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Amphibians in U.S. Declining at “Alarming and Rapid Rate”

yellow-legged frog

A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years. The nine-year [...]

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Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus Hits Rarely Seen, Wormlike Amphibians


Don’t feel bad if you’ve never seen a caecilian, let alone don’t know how to pronounce the word. These rare, legless amphibians—which look like a cross between a worm and a snake—spend most of their time underground, far from the prying eyes of scientists and other humans. Although some of the 190 or so known [...]

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Leopards, Tortoises, Harlequin Frogs and other Links from the Brink

amur leopard

Last year I wrote somewhere around 150 articles about endangered species. I could have easily written closer to 1,000. One blog simply can’t cover all of threatened species around the world, as hard as I try. But I hate letting news items (not to mention species) fall through the cracks. And so, here is the [...]

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Once Extinct in the Wild, Kihansi Spray Toad Returns to Tanzania (by Way of the Bronx and Toledo)

Kihansi Spray Toad

Two American zoos have helped to save an African amphibian from extinction. The Kihansi spray toad (Nectophrynoides asperginis) was declared extinct in the wild in 2009 after its only habitat, the waterfalls of Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania, dried up following the establishment of a nearby hydroelectric dam. But this month 2,000 toads returned to Kihansi, [...]

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Geese May Be Helping to Spread Frog-Killing Chytrid Fungus

canada goose belgium

The frog-killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease chytridiomycosis, has been blamed for about 100 amphibian extinctions around the globe since it was first observed in 1998, but clear information on exactly how it spreads has remained a mystery. Now a team of scientists working in Belgium have come up with one potential [...]

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Extinction Looms for Rare Frog Species, Now Down to 1 Individual

Rabbs Tree Frog

And then there was one. The last known Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) now lives by himself at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia after the zoo euthanized the only other member of its species. The euthanized frog, another male, had been experiencing a “marked decline in health and behavior” according to a Zoo Atlanta news [...]

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Should California Ban American Bullfrogs?

American bullfrog

Santa Cruz County in California could soon become the first county in the U.S. to ban the import, sale and possession of American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana). Last week, Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark W. Stone sent a letter to the board urging it to enact a ban in 2012. Stone’s request followed [...]

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Endangered Ozark Hellbender Salamanders Breed in Captivity for the First Time

“In my 24 years in the zoo business, this is one of the most exciting periods I’ve been through so far,” says Jeff Ettling, curator of herpetology and aquatics at the Saint Louis Zoo. He’s talking about the birth of 185 baby Ozark hellbender salamanders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) at the zoo’s Ron Goellner Center for [...]

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Hellbender Salamander Gets Endangered Species Designation, but No Habitat Protection—and That May Be a Good Thing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) this week granted the Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) but made the unusual decision not to declare critical habitat for the rare, giant salamanders because, it said, doing so could open it to threats from those who would illegally collect the [...]

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How Eating Frog Legs Is Causing Frog Extinctions

a bowl of skinned frog legs

Frog legs are still an amazingly popular food item around the world, including here in the U.S. According to a new report, an average of 2,280 metric tons of frog legs are imported into this country each year—that’s the equivalent of somewhere between 450 million and 1.1 billion frogs. Another 2,216 metric tons of live [...]

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Citizen Scientists and Social Media Aim to Help Prevent Frog Extinctions

Panamanian golden frog

Around the world, frogs and other amphibians are disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution and the deadly chytrid fungus, which has already driven a few dozen species into extinction. But with critical information on many species still lacking, scientists can only go so far when trying to help save those in crisis. To [...]

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The Denver Zoo is helping to save Peru’s critically endangered Lake Titicaca frog

Lake Titicaca frog

A small success is being hailed as a big step forward for conservation efforts to protect the world’s largest aquatic frog, the critically endangered Lake Titicaca frog (Telmatobius culeus). For the first time, frogs in captivity in their native country of Peru have laid fertile eggs, and although the resulting tadpoles did not survive, scientists [...]

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As white-nose syndrome wipes out little brown bats, groups petition for emergency protection

More than one million bats have been killed by the deadly fungal infection known as white-nose syndrome (WNS) since the condition first turned up in 2006. One of the hardest hit species, the once-common little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), might now face extinction as a result of the disease. As a result, scientists and conservation [...]

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From chytrid to ranavirus: Another disease is devastating frog populations

The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) isn’t the only thing killing frogs and amphibians around the world. Now we have word that a disease from the genus Ranavirus is devastating frog populations in the U.K. According to research published in the October 2010 issue of Animal Conservation, the rapidly spreading ranavirus is killing common frogs (Rana [...]

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Are Frogs Injurious Species?

Should the sale of frogs and other amphibians be restricted to prevent the further spread of the deadly chytrid fungus? That’s the question the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is asking, and they want your input. The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd ) has spread around the globe since it was first observed [...]

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“Extinct” Australian frog reappears 30 years after last sighting

The yellow-spotted bell frog (Litoria castanea), last observed in 1970s, has long been thought to be extinct in the wild. Scientists believed it was probably a victim of the deadly chytrid fungus that has devastated amphibian populations around the world. But last year, Luke Pearce, a fisheries conservation officer in the Australian state of New [...]

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U.K. zoo builds a “love shack” for critically endangered frogs

leaf frog

What does it take to encourage endangered species to breed? In the case of two frog species living at Bristol Zoo Gardens in England it takes creating a very special environment, and not just one that plays romantic music. Bristol Zoo just finished building AmphiPod, a high-tech facility that “will allow us to adjust the [...]

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In 100 Heartbeats Jeff Corwin tackles causes and costs of species extinctions

jeff corwin 100 heartbeats endangered species book

Conservationist Jeff Corwin is known for often bringing a goofy passion to his television projects for Animal Planet and other networks. His latest effort displays no less passion, but switches out most of the jokes for gravitas. 100 Heartbeats: The Race to save Earth’s Most Endangered Species, Corwin’s new book and accompanying MSNBC documentary, is [...]

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IUCN Red List update: 17,291 species are threatened with extinction

cross river gorilla

The 2009 edition of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was released today, and the news isn’t good: 17,291 species out of 47,677 assessed species, or 36 percent, are threatened with extinction. Science currently recognizes around 1.8 million species on Earth (out of an estimated five million to 30 million total species—the true total [...]

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New tools in the fight against frog-killing fungus available online

As the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd ) continues its spread around the globe, putting thousands of amphibian species at risk of extinction, scientists are taking a few steps to control it, or at least understand it better. First, researchers led by Jamie Voyles of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, believe they [...]

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World’s frogs disappearing: Save the Frogs Day calls for action

Tree Frog

Save the frogs! That’s the call going out from the scientific community today on the first annual Save the Frogs Day. Frogs (and all amphibians) around the world are in dire straits, with nearly one-third of the world’s 6,317 species on the brink of extinction, according to the Save the Frogs Foundation, headquartered in Centreville, [...]

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Salamanders slipping away, global warming may be to blame

Biologists report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week that they were unable to find  a pair of previously common Guatemalan salamander species — Pseudoeurycea brunnata and Pseudoeurycea goebeli — and  say they are apparently extinct. Numerous other species in Guatemala and Mexico also failed to turn up during several surveys [...]

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