Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologists rediscover endangered frog population

30.07.2009
Zoo, museum, state and federal agencies collaborate

For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest's San Jacinto Wilderness.

Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessing suitability of sites to re-establish frogs and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retracing a 1908 natural history expedition both rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, Calif.

This re-discovery — along with the San Diego Zoo's first successful breeding of the frog in captivity, and successful efforts by California Department of Fish and Game to restore frog habitat — renews hope of survival for this Southern California amphibian.

Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California. Prior to this recent discovery, USGS researchers had estimated there were about 122 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild.

USGS and San Diego Natural History Museum biologists found the endangered frog during separate trips in June. The frogs were spotted at two locations about 2½ miles apart in the Tahquitz and Willow creeks in the San Jacinto Mountains. The number of frogs in the area has not yet been determined.

"If this population is large, it could play an important role in the re-establishment of this species across Southern California," said Adam Backlin, a USGS scientist who led the survey team that spotted the first new Tahquitz Creek frogs on June 10.

Biologists from the San Diego Natural History Museum made their find June 25. The museum scientists were retracing the path of a 1908 expedition by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley. During that expedition, which covered all elevations and faces of the San Jacinto Mountain region, the frog was collected at five sites. The San Diego Natural History Museum's team is searching for all species of vertebrates — animals with a backbone — in a study of biological change in the region. The biologists were in the Tahquitz Valley area the week of June 21 when Drew Stokes, a field biologist with the museum, found and photographed a single mountain yellow-legged frog in Willow Creek, a tributary of Tahquitz Creek. The museum's study will continue until biologists have completed three surveys at each of the 19 sites studied by the 1908 expedition.

Mountain yellow-legged frogs are not known to migrate far, possibly indicating a significant population. The size of the site represents much more habitat than occupied by the eight other mountain yellow-legged frog populations in the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel mountain ranges. In those areas, the frog occupies less than a half-mile of stream.

This rediscovery is a windfall for all the partners working to increase the number of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild by government and nonprofit partners. In addition to the USGS and the San Diego Natural History Museum, the effort involves collaboration between the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, University of California and California Department of Fish and Game.

The San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research was the first to breed a mountain yellow-legged frog in captivity. That amphibian has recently morphed from a tadpole into a froglet, or juvenile frog.

"Historically, scientists have had great difficulty breeding frogs in captivity," said Jeff Lemm, an animal research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo. "We are excited by this success and cautiously optimistic we will have more eggs soon."

In December 2008, researchers at the Institute for Conservation Research discovered a clutch of about 200 eggs in one of its tanks. Researchers were surprised because the frogs were younger than is typical for breeding. Because of the frogs' young age, only a handful of the eggs were fertile. The one frog to mature is thriving. The next breeding season is expected to be December 2009 to March 2010.

The goal of the breeding program is to return the mountain yellow-legged frog to its native habitat.

The Zoo's breeding program, in conjunction with its partners, began after the rare frogs were rescued from a drying creek. Anne Poopatanapong, a wildlife biologist for the San Jacinto Ranger District in the San Bernardino National Forest was monitoring declining creek water levels in Dark Canyon on Aug. 23, 2006, when she noticed many pools drying up, including one where frogs had been living. Concerned about losing the tadpoles, she called the Fish and Wildlife Service and the salvage effort started the next day. A USGS team led by Dr. Robert Fisher rescued 82 tadpoles, which were taken to the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.

The frog recovery effort has been funded by Caltrans in part to mitigate for emergency work to stabilize a slope near the frog's habitat on state Route 330 in the San Bernadino Mountains.

"The emergency slope reconstruction project had the dual benefit of opening a road that was about to fail as well as helping to ensure that the last known population of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Bernardino Mountains had a program in place to aid the frog's recovery," said Craig Wentworth, a senior environmental planner/biologist with Caltrans.

Jim Bartel, the field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Carlsbad, said his agency is pleased to participate in the effort to rescue the mountain yellow-legged frog and conserve its remaining riparian habitat.

"We look forward to reintroducing the species to its native habitat," Bartel said.

Habitat protection and restoration, combined with efforts to reintroduce these frogs to areas where they have been decimated, offers the best hope of returning mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California to a healthy, self-sustaining population.

The California Department of Fish and Game is dedicated to the completion of the Little Rock Creek trout removal project to benefit the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. Working with USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trout populations have been significantly reduced in Little Rock Creek in the Angeles National Forest. As a result, frog presence in the section of the creek where the fish were removed has increased, demonstrating the success of this collaborative effort.

USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit www.usgs.gov.

Celebrating its 135th year, the San Diego Natural History Museum is the second oldest scientific institution in California; third west of the Mississippi. Its mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education, and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment.

The San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research is dedicated to generating, sharing and applying scientific knowledge vital to the conservation of animals, plants and habitats worldwide. The work of the Institute includes onsite research efforts at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, laboratory work at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research, and international field programs involving more than 180 researchers working in 35 countries. In addition to the Beckman Center, the Institute also operates the Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Botanical Conservation Center, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaiian Bird Conservation Centers and the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego. For more information: www.sandiegozoo.org.

The San Bernardino National Forest: "Caring for the Land and Serving People." Our mission, as set forth by law, is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information: www.fws.gov

Dani Dodge | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sandiegozoo.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Seeing on the Quick: New Insights into Active Vision in the Brain
15.08.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

nachricht New Approach to Treating Chronic Itch
15.08.2018 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

15.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Early opaque universe linked to galaxy scarcity

15.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>