Re-issue of expired Care2 Article by Tex Dworkin and Mark Mandica

The article that my dear friend Tex and I worked on 4 years ago is no longer accessible on the Care2 site where it was published. I thought I would post it here, as it provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with conservation minded folks, who were not necessarily aware of the global amphibian extinction crisis. You can still find remnants of the original article on Pintrest.

Plus, it was the first time I ever had my cell phone photography featured in a publication. It's a very nice piece, and brought a lot of attention to amphibians. I thought, given all that has been happening with quarantines and COVID-19, it would be a good time to share some of my favorite frog pictures.  Some of the language has been updated
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Meet 10 Stunning Frogs Whose Populations are Dwindling

Slope Snouted Glass Frog, Cochranella euknemos
Conservation Status: Decreasing



Glass Frogs (family Centrolenidae) are so named due to the translucent skin on their bellies. This allows enough light to pass through the frog to disguise it from predators.



The Slope Snouted Glass Frog was one of the Panamanian species rescued by the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta in 2005, when the deadly amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis (chytrid) was wiping out as much as 85% of the frogs from that region. This incredible species, and many others are held in a biosecure facility at the Garden called the frogPOD where they can be studied and bred in captivity until they can one day be returned to the wild in Panama.

For the past 25 years or so, amphibians have been disappearing globally from developed areas as well as pristine environments. 43% of the world’s 7,000+ amphibian species have been documented as in decline or already extinct. Scientists have identified multiple anthropogenic factors contributing synergistically to amphibian declines, such as habitat loss, pollution, outdoor cats, collection, acidification of the environment, and infectious disease. 

Blue-sided Leaf Frog, Agalychnis annae
Conservation Status: Endangered



Blue-sided Leaf Frogs are still declining in the wild.

Predominantly from Costa Rica

Leaf Frogs or Monkey Frogs (Family Phyllomedusidae) are so named because they often lay their eggs on leaves or other structures above water. When the eggs hatch the tadpoles drop down into the water below.

Leaf and Monkey Frogs are a specialized type of Tree Frog (related to family Hylidae) from Central and South America.

Staff at the Amphibian Foundation has initiated an amphibian monitoring program in the metro Atlanta area which enlists staff, volunteers and concerned ‘citizen scientists’ to join together as a community in order to monitor our local amphibian populations. If you are in the greater Atlanta region, you can go to maamp.us to learn more. There are many amphibian monitoring programs throughout the US, and it is a great way for anyone passionate about amphibians to contribute to their conservation. Two current ways to get involved in virtually any area is to install the Herp Mapper program and submit photo or audio data with your phone, or see where the nearest Frog Watch initiative is to your community and if there isn’t already one in your area — start one!

Black-eyed Leaf Frog, Agalychnis moreletii
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered



Black-eyed Leaf Frogs are a critically endangered species of Leaf Frog (subfamily Phyllomedusinae). Their eyes are such a deep dark red, that they appear black.

The species is native to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico but is declining rapidly in the wild placing this species an imminent risk of extinction.
Lemur Leaf Frog, Agalychnis lemur
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered



Staff at the Amphibian Foundation has been working with Lemur Leaf Frogs for over 11 years, and have donated over 400 baby frogs to various institutions and conservation agencies. The hope is that once the wild home range of Lemur Leaf Frogs is once again safe for the species, we will have large numbers to return and repopulate protected areas of Panama and Costa Rica.



One of the smallest species of Leaf Frogs.

They have excellent camouflage and actually sleep on the underside of leaves during the day.



A nocturnal species, they turn from bright green to a brownish red at night


Granular Glass Frog, Cochranella granulosa
Conservation Status: Data Deficient

Granular Glass Frogs are one of the frog species that most resemble Kermit.
All frogs have granular glands throughout their skin, but these glands are clearly visible on the back of C. granulosa.

This species lays its eggs on leaves over streams. When the eggs hatch, the tadpoles drop down and complete development in the streams. This can take well over a year!

The tadpoles appear pink, but really their skin is also clear and glass-like so the blood vessels are visible - giving the larvae a pink hue.

Not enough information is known about the populations of Granular Glass Frogs to know whether they are stable or in decline

 
Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog, Ecnomiohyla rabborum
Conservation Status: Extinct

**This caption was updated. Five months afte rthe article was published, the last known Rabbs' Fringe-limbed Tree Frog died in Atlanta. The species is now believed to be extinct. To read the article on his passing, click here**

Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog (named after devoted amphibian conservationists George and Mary Rabb)

Is believed to be extinct and hasn’t been seen or heard in Panama since 2007

The probable cause of the frog’s extinction is the emergent infectious amphibian disease — chytridiomycosis (chytrid)

A large frog, almost the size of a human hand

Frogs of the genus Ecnomiohyla are specialized Tree Frogs (family Hylidae) known for their ability to glide by using expanded finger and toe webbing.

The last known Rabbs’ Fringe-limbed Tree Frog resided in the frogPOD at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He was a male frog.

He hadn’t been heard calling until 2014, when a mysterious call emanated from the frogPOD. Mark Mandica, the Amphibian Conservation Program’s manager was able to quietly approach and make a recording. The call of this frog had never been recorded before. The recording can be heard on YouTube by clicking the link below:



 Another way you can do something directly to benefit your local amphibian communities is to make your yard more amphibian friendly. More often than not, it involves doing LESS yard work than you are currently doing. Encouraging amphibians back into your property to can help reduce insects (1,000 amphibians can eat 5 million insects a year!) and help re-connect amphibian populations which have been fragmented by human land development. There are resources for how to encourage amphibians in your yard available at backyard.frogsneedourhelp.org

Gopher Frog, Lithobates capito
Conservation Status: Threatened

The Gopher Frog is the rarest frog in Georgia. The Amphibian Foundation and partners have been head-starting this species for over 10 years.

Head-starting is a conservation tool where eggs are collected from the wild. Then, the eggs are cared for until they hatch, and the tadpoles are raised through metamorphosis. The froglets are then released back into the wild into protected habitats.

Gopher Frogs are imperiled in part because they are indigenous to the Long Leaf Pine ecosystem, which has been reduced by 97% of it’s original range in the south-east US.

Gopher Frogs inhabit the burrows built by other imperiled species living in the Long Leaf Pine ecosystem such as Gopher Tortoises and Pocket Gophers. Gopher Frogs, and hundreds of other species like Indigo Snakes and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes share the Gopher Tortoise burrows to escape from the heat and wildfires which occur regularly in the region.

Gopher Frogs breed in ephemeral, or seasonal wetlands that only hold water for short periods of time. They will not breed in permanent wetlands or ponds that have failed to dry out prior to their breeding season. Many species of amphibian rely on these seasonal pools to breed, and while it adds pressure — the tadpoles have to complete metamorphosis before the ponds dry out — it does insure they can develop in the absence of predatory fish which obviously can’t persist in a wetland which dries regularly.

 FYI: The images above and below are illustrations!

 
Argentine Horned Frog, Ceratophrys ornata
Conservation Status: Near Threatened, In Decline

The Argentine Horned Frog is basically just a big mouth with tiny arms and legs. They are ambush predators and dig into the ground so just their eyes are poking out. From there it can grab just about anything: insects, small mammals, birds or even each other with it’s large sticky tongue and hold it in place with it’s sharp teeth and blade-like jaw bone.

This image is an illustration by the Amphibian Conservation Program’s manager, Mark Mandica who was inspired to paint a portrait of the frog after he underestimated it and it jumped up and latched onto his finger.

The frog depicted in this illustration was also in the local Atlanta, GA newspaper when it had its 30th birthday!

Unlike most frog larvae which are vegetarians, the tadpoles of Horned Frogs are vicious predators with teeth that are used to eat anything in the pond with them … including each other.

 
Fringed Leaf Frog, Cruziohyla craspedopus
Conservation Status: Decreasing

A beautiful and mysterious frog, little is known about the Fringed Leaf Frog. They live high in the canopy of the Amazon forest and rarely, if ever come to the ground.

They are tree hole breeders and use the small amount of water that collects in trees where fallen branches can leave a hole. The tadpoles develop in these micro habitats and emerge as one of the most beautiful frogs in the world

They are named from the prominent fringe on their legs. This fringe breaks up the outline of the frog making it look like part of the leaf, or lichen growth rather than a frog. This frog hides in plain sight all day while it sleeps on top of large leaves invisible to predators.

While at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, we were one of the first institutions to breed this species in captivity.

 
Black-legged Poison Dart Frog, Phyllobates bicolor
Conservation Status: Near Threatened, In Decline

The Poison Frogs (family Dendrobatidae) are a colorful and fascinating group of amphibians. Frogs in this family secret poison from their granular glands with a level of toxicity that varies from species to species.

Their bold colors (reds, blues, yellows and oranges) are warnings to predators that the frog is toxic and dangerous. These colors are the opposite of camouflage — the frogs are trying to stand out — and the warning colors (or aposematic coloration) effectively convey the message to predators before any attempt is made to eat the frog.

Even though there are almost 200 species of Poison Frog, only a few species are lethal to humans (like the one pictured here). The most toxic Poison Frogs can kill a half dozen adult humans just by touching it!

These select few are also known as Poison Dart Frogs because they are used (by native South American Amerindians) for blow dart hunting. Once a dart is tipped with the secretions from one of these frogs, it can kill for up to 6 months.

Despite the incredible lethality of these frogs, they are still endangered and declining. Their toxicity doesn’t aid them against the pressures that all amphibians are facing globally such as habitat loss, emergent infectious disease, pollution and harvesting.


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