Showing posts from April, 2011

Species Spotlight: Gaige's rain frog

There are so many more amphibians in our Frogs of Panama exhibit than any other at the Garden. In fact, we started with just over 20 adult frogs (3 Anotheca spinosa, 4 Incilius coniferus, 4 Pristimantis gaigei and 10 Colostethus pratti), and since then, at least 2 of these Panamanian species have reproduced in the exhibit!

Every morning the calls of male Rocket frogs (Colostethus) can be heard as they woo prospective mates. The males can also be seen competing for territory in typical poison frog fashion if you watch closely and stay very still. Although Rocket frogs are technically in the family of 'poison frogs', they seem to rely more on their quickness (they are called 'rocket frogs', after all) and their cryptic coloration, rather than being brightly colored, as is typical with their poison frog relatives.

Last Tuesday, I noticed a pair of adult Rain frogs (Pristimantis) in amplexus in the back left corner of the exhibit. This is the most secretive frog we have on…

Notes from the Field: Dante in China, part 3

'Things in South China are good.  We have been catching many cave fish and seeing lots of cave wildlife.  There is a species of water snake here that is common in the caves.  I think it eats the cave fish we have been looking for.  The invertebrates in these caves are similar to North America's in some regards.  Cave crickets are common.  Cave millipedes are also common.  We visited a cave the other day called "Palace of the Dragon God."  It had a great blind cave loach in it!  More from South China later' — Dante

Notes from the Field: Mark goes to JERC (Ichauway, GA)

This past weekend, I was invited to join Dr. John Maerz' UGA Herpetology class on their annual field trip to Jones Ecological Research Center (JERC) in Ichauway (Baker County) GA. Dr. Joe Mendelson (Zoo Atlanta) and I joined the group Saturday morning for what I can only describe as a 24 hour crash course in the Reptiles and Amphibians of South West Georgia.

There is an amazing amount of research happening on the 30,000 acres of protected land and I could feel the enthusiasm for learning about these critters. We found almost 40 species in 24 hours, which is simply incredible. Helping Lora Smith and Jess McGuire check their turtle, tortoise, snake, lizard, frog and salamander traps made finding most of these animals some easier! Also their invaluable expertise in telling us where to look!

A wonderful place and I am already itching to get back to Ichauway.

Notes from the Field: Dante in China, part 2

'Everything is going well here.  We are hitting roughly 3 caves per day.  Yesterday, we visited "Temple of the Dragon God."  It is a deep cave that had a blind cave loach.

We visited a farm that cultures the Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus.  They had roughly 600 individuals that they were raising.  It was incredible to see so many endangered salamanders in one place.  Andrias davidianus is the world's largest salamander, with record size individuals approaching over 1.75 meters (over 5 feet) in length.

This weekend at the Garden ...

As things continue to warm up here in Atlanta, even the neotropical frogs in our captive breeding program are responding to the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours.

With all this increased activity, I was happy to have my camera with me ... I was even able to record one of our male Gastrotheca cornuta (Horned marsupial frogs) calling!

Pictured above is a poison frog in the Conservatory. Edward and I have had our eyes on this one for several weeks now, and we think it is possibly a hybrid between the 2 Epipedobates species living in the 'Gardens Under Glass'. E. tricolor (Phantasmal poison frog) is brown with bright green stripes on the flanks and green dorsum, whereas E. anthonyi (no common name) is burgundy red with 3 baby blue stripes down the back. The frog pictured above appears to be a 'washed out' burgundy red with no dorsal pattern and faint green stripes on the flanks. Even the experts have trouble telling these 2 species apart.

Photos from our visitors

Since the blog started, we have been inviting the Garden's visitors to contribute photos to share. Well, here is our first visitor submission! An amazing photograph by Kyle Finn (Moody Gardens) of and adult Epipedobates tricolor (Phantasmal poison frog) transporting tadpoles across the conservatory on its back!

Notes from the Field: Dante in China, part 1

Dr. Danté Fenolio, the Garden's amphibian conservation scientist and author, is underground in South China and Northwest Thailand shooting photographs of some of the rarest cave fauna known to science for his new biodiversity book. He is updating us regularly, including sending updates and pictures for the blog when he emerges between caves.

"I am working in Asia to photograph the cave life of South China and Northwest Thailand. This all goes toward finishing a grant funded biodiversity book that I have been working on. I hope to provide blog updates throughout this 3 week long trip.

The Asiatic genus of fish, Sinocyclocheilus, has a number of species that have become cave adapted to varying degrees. They have to be among the strangest of freshwater fish that I have ever seen. Several of the unique characters to some of the cave adapted species are horn like structures on their heads or massive bumped foreheads. Another character is a flattened, spoon-like snout and mouth. He…