Nearly half of Mount Oku frogs are in danger of croaking, study finds

first_imgArticle published by Maria Salazar Amphibians, Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Extinction, Frogs, Herps, Interns, Wildlife Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredcenter_img Survey work discovers at least 50 amphibian species living on Mount Oku, a dormant volcano in Cameroon.Mount Oku’s puddle frogs are vanishing – and no one knows why. Some species may already be extinct.Researchers say survey work is often overlooked for ‘sexier’ science, but this could hamper saving species. Amphibians around the world are in a state of crisis. Over 40 percent are threatened with extinction. Chytrid fungus, a disease fatal to most amphibians, is decimating populations already threatened by human impacts like climate change, pesticides, and deforestation. Before conservationists can develop action plans to protect amphibians, however, they need to know which species are where. That’s where species surveys come in.Last month, a pair of researchers, Thomas Doherty-Bone and Václav Gvoždík, published an updated list of amphibian species found on Mount Oku in Cameroon. The new list is a result of over a decade of work, and provides vital information about one of the most unique mountains in Cameroon: Mount Oku, a dormant volcano boasting high numbers of rare and endemic species.Doherty-Bone and Gvoždík doubled the size of Mount Oku’s old amphibian inventory, adding 25 new species. In addition, they discovered one species of puddle frog potentially new to science. If confirmed, it would mean 51 amphibians inhabit the mountain.Troublingly, the scientists also found that nearly half of the species on the mountain are likely threatened with extinction. The researchers consider forest degradation to be the main culprit, but puddle frogs (the genus Phrynobatrachus), are currently declining at especially alarming rates.David Blackburn, a University of Florida herpetologist with a long research history in Cameroon, has seen this first-hand.“These were species that were literally… everywhere,” he said of puddle frogs. “You could stand at the edge of Lake Oku during the day and see [puddle frogs] just jumping off the leaves… now we could have six to eight of us looking at the same time, and even despite that, we still can’t find them.”Unfortunately, the survey work needed to track these declines is often overlooked. There is “a lack of incentive for researchers to publish their lists as this is not ‘sexy’ science,” said coauthor Thomas Doherty-Bone with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. “The bread and butter of a scientist is to publish a high quality paper testing a hypothesis, and species inventories (the baseline of ecology) are unfortunately not going to get anyone a promotion.”Sexy or not, up-to-date species inventories can mean life or death for amphibian populations. When asked what the biggest challenge of surveying amphibians is, Doherty-Bone replied, “seeing them before they disappear.”The story of Mount Oku illustrates why the often thankless work of surveying amphibian populations is critically important – now more than ever.Mount Oku: a volcano turned biodiversity hotspotAt over 3,000 meters, Mount Oku is the second-tallest mountain in what is known as the Cameroon line, a chain of volcanoes that begins as a string of islands in the Gulf of Guinea and continues inland along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria.Oku itself is situated in the Western High Plateau, an inland region of the chain that is of particular interest to researchers. This is because many of the dormant volcanoes host unique species, which are kept separated from their relatives in pockets of high-elevation rainforest. Within the past 15 years, however, Mount Oku has begun to receive special attention even within this volcanic group.“Early on, this was driven by Birdlife International trying to conserve forest birds that are found only on Mount Oku,” said Blackburn. “But as we’ve had more work by amphibian biologists on Mount Oku, there’s been new species discovered and described… including quite a number of frogs that are found only on Mount Oku or very near to only on Mount Oku.”In fact, of the 50 amphibian species currently thought to inhabit Mount Oku, five – six if the newly described Phrynobatrachus is indeed a new species – amphibians are endemic, and seven are endemic to the Western Highland Plateau.Mount Oku is unique, in part, because it has something that many other mountains do not: a crater lake. One frog species, the Lake Oku clawed frog (Xenopus longipes) is found only in that crater lake, and another, the Lake Oku puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus njiomock) is found only in the forest around the lake. Add to this the rainforest, the high summit, and grasslands at the peak, and Mount Oku emerges as a “really unique site even within Cameroon” with a large host of endemic species, explained Blackburn.The Lake Oku clawed frog (X. longipes) is endemic to Mount Oku. Photo credit: Václav GvoždíkFiguring out just how many species are truly endemic can be trickier than one might expect, however. Researchers believe that in colder times, mountains in the region were more closely ecologically linked than they are today. This raises a number of questions about species relatedness and diversity in Mount Oku and surrounding mountains. The answer to these questions is necessary in order to build conservation plans that protect not just species, but the environmental processes that enable them to thrive.However, the time to build these plans is running out.Lake Oku, Mount Oku’s crater lake, hosts the Lake Oku puddle frog, found nowhere else in the world. It hasn’t been seen since 2010. Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia CommonsExpensive, thankless work: the challenges of conducting surveysWithout scientists like Doherty-Burn and Gvoždík publishing up-to-date inventories, phenomena like Mount Oku’s rapidly disappearing puddle frogs could go unnoticed until it is too late. For endemic species like the Mount Oku puddle frog, that means extinction.“As conservationists work to identify key biodiversity areas, good surveys are essential in helping us understand where best to allocate limited conservation resources,” said Anne Baker, executive director of the amphibian conservation organization Amphibian Ark.The lack of incentive to publish such surveys is damaging, as survey work comes with many challenges. Scientists need funding to buy equipment and support to spend time working in the field. The updated inventory of Mount Oku is the result of ten years of visual samples, acoustic surveys, pitfall traps, dip-netting, and funnel traps. It also depends on a great deal of local help, both from the communities and from individuals who have been trained to conduct field work.Mount Oku’s high altitude and diverse habitats, including rainforest, grassland, and agriculture, make it a challenge to survey exhaustively. However, it is actually one of the easier mountains in the region to survey due to highly developed roads and a local economy dependent on ecotourism and white honey. In addition, the local leader, known here as the Fon, has helped facilitate biodiversity research on the mountain, and is so committed to ecotourism that the tourist office is located in his palace.From knowledge to action: racing the clockThrough cumulative efforts, Doherty-Bone and Gvoždík have added 25 names to the list on Mount Oku. Some of these, such as hairy frogs (Trichobatrachus robustus), were unsurprising. Doherty-Bone described others as more unexpected, like the rocket frog (Ptychadena taeniocelis) and the egg frog (Leptodactylon axillaris), both of whose ranges were thought to stop farther south.Egg frogs (Leptodactylodon axillaris) are currently classified as Critically Endangered, and were thought to only exist on a single mountain, Mount Bamboutos. Their presence on Mount Oku could mean they are not as close to extinction as feared. Photo credit: Thomas Doherty-Bone.Another, the Schiotz’s puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus schioetzi), had never before been recorded in Cameroon. Given the dire situation for puddle frogs on Mount Oku, its addition to the list is bittersweet. A species disappearing even as it is added onto an inventory is disheartening, but not an uncommon story for amphibians worldwide.“What [concerns me] is how many species we will lose without ever knowing that they even existed,” Baker said.Now that the researchers have named names, it is up to conservationists to try to find solutions to the threats facing nearly half of Mount Oku’s amphibians.“It might already be too late for some species, such as the puddle frogs, but conservation of the natural habitats on Mount Oku needs to continue and to improve,” says Doherty-Bone.The amphibians on the mountain are threatened by a cocktail of dangers, including deforestation, climate change, pesticide use, and over-exploitation. There has also been an increase in chytrid fungus on the mountain in recent years, but “that pathogen has been in Cameroon since 1934,” said Doherty-Bone.The next step is to try to gain a better genetic understanding of frogs in the area, and to expand the inventory by adding museum specimens collected on the mountain to the list. Researchers also need to uncover why puddle frogs are declining while other amphibian populations remain stable.For those most at-risk, says Doherty-Bone, captivity should be considered as an option. A step that has already created an insurance policy for the Lake Oku clawed frog.Conducting surveys might not be “sexy science,” but with amphibians disappearing faster than they can be discovered and documented, it is essential, often unsung, work. Let’s hope the Mount Oku survey has been published in time to save its critically endangered species.Citation:Doherty-Bone, T. M., & Gvoždík, V. (2017). The Amphibians of Mount Oku, Cameroon: an updated species inventory and conservation review. ZooKeys. 643: 19-139NOTE (10 March 2017): A previous version of this article miscaptioned the third picture as a hairy frog. The frog in the image is an egg frog. We regret the error, which has now been corrected.last_img

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