The Chalazodes Bubble-nest Frog (Raorchestes chalazodes) was last seen in 1874. Rediscovered after 136 years, this striking fluorescent green frog with ash-blue thighs and black pupils with golden patches (highly unusual traits among amphibians) frog leads a secretive life, presumably inside reeds during the day. Rediscovered by Ganesan R, Seshadri KS and SD Biju. Listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered. Photo: © SD Biju

By Jeremy Hance,
February 16, 2011

Last August, a group of conservation agencies launched the Search for Lost Frogs, which employed 126 researchers to scour 21 countries for 100 amphibian species, some of which have not been seen for decades. After five months, expeditions found 4 amphibians out of the 100 targets, highlighting the likelihood that most of the remaining species are in fact extinct; however the global expedition also uncovered some happy surprises. Amphibians have been devastated over the last few decades; highly sensitive to environmental impacts, species have been hard hit by deforestation, habitat loss, pollution, agricultural chemicals, overexploitation for food, climate change, and a devastating fungal disease, chytridiomycosis. Researchers say that in the past 30 years, its likely 120 amphibians have been lost forever.

The Search for Lost Frogs conducted by Conservation International (CI), the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG), and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), hoped to find species whose status remained unknown. The unprecedented search did uncover surviving populations of the Cave Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton mosaueri) of Mexico (not seen since 1941), the Mount Nimba Reed Frog (Hyperolius nimbae) of Ivory Coast (last seen in 1967), and the Omaniundu Reed Frog (Hyperolius sankuruensis) of Democratic Republic of Congo (not seen since 1979). In addition the search announced today that it also rediscovered the Rio Pescado stubfoot toad of Ecuador (to read more about this discovery: Researchers rediscover one of the world's most sought-after lost frogs). This find was especially gratifying as the toad was the only rediscovered amphibian on the Search's Top Ten List (ranked number six). After being tipped off by a local community, the researchers found a single adult toad.

"Rediscoveries provide reason for hope for these species, but the flip side of the coin is that the vast majority of species that teams were looking for were not found. This is a reminder that we are in the midst of what is being called the Sixth Great Extinction with species disappearing at 100 to 1000 times the historic rate—and amphibians are really at the forefront of this extinction wave," says CI's amphibian expert Dr. Robin Moore, who helped organize the search. "We need to turn these discoveries and rediscoveries into an opportunity to stem the crisis by focusing on protecting one of the most vulnerable groups of animals and their critical habitats.” …

Worldwide search for 'lost frogs' ends with 4% success, but some surprises



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