In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World’s Rarest Amphibians – book review

October 24th, 2014

By Gabriel Thoumi

In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World’s Rarest Amphibians describes the great quest to rediscover long-lost and presumed extinct frogs, toads, and salamanders not seen between 15 and 140 years ago. Since the turn of the millennium, over 250 amphibians have not been seen or recorded by science – many now presumed extinct – and it is estimated that over half of the Earth’s 7,000 amphibians are currently threatened with extinction.

By 2013, roughly 933 of the Earth’s 7,000 known species of amphibians were threatened with extinction. Many causes led to this extinction crisis, including habitat loss, deforestation and degradation, chemical dispersion, invasive plants and animals, degradation of the hydrologic cycle degradation, and global warming.  But few have proven as devastating to date as the chytrid fungus. Chytrid fungus, which leads to the highly-deadly skin disease chytridiomycosis in amphibians, may be partially responsible for over 100 amphibian extinctions since the 1970s.

After witnessing these trends first-hand, world renowned conservationist and nature photographer Dr. Robin Moore, with Conservation International and The Amphibian Survival Alliance, organized 33 teams globally in 19 countries on 5 continents in 2010 to search for evidence of 100 elusive frogs not seen in over a decade. Many of these amphibians were presumed extinct. By organizing communities and local conservationists to look for these “lost frogs,”—which also included salamanders and other amphibians—scientists could get a better sense of the current amphibian extinction tsunami, and maybe even save a few species before they vanished.. The new book, In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World’s Rarest Amphibians, tells this story.

This global effort led to the rediscovery of 40 frogs, toads, and amphibians not seen in over ten years. Notable rediscoveries include the Anamalai Dot-Frog – last seen in 1937 – and the Chalazodes Bubble-nest Frog – last seen in 1874. In the Chocó forest of Colombia, new species were also discovered, making Time Magazine’s top ten new species list in 2010.

In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World’s Rarest Amphibians you will learn about valiant efforts to save Earth’s most threatened amphibians in some the most dangerous places on Earth. Startling success stories will keep you in suspense while dramatic failures will inspire you to protect all of Earth’s species. Peppered with gorgeous photos by Moore, the book is a gritty, determined, realistic, and, at times, even hopeful story that is a must read for all of us who want to protect species on Earth.

How to order:

In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World’s Rarest Amphibians
Publisher:            A Firefly Book
ISBN:                        1770854649
Author:                   Robin Moore

Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, Certified Ecologist, is a frequent contributor to Mongabay.com.

Picture: Blue-footed poison frog

March 31st, 2012

Blue-footed poison frog (Oophaga pumilio)
Blue-footed poison dart frog (Oophaga pumilio) from Panama

Picture: Red-eyed tree frog

March 26th, 2012

RED-EYED TREE FROG
Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Bizarre: tadpoles seen wiggling inside daddy’s vocal sac (video)

April 28th, 2011

Males gobbling babies. Wiggly tadpoles bulging beneath the skin. Yeah, okay, that’s bizarre, but it’s also the lifestyle of Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii), an endangered species that was found by Charles Darwin himself. While the females carry the eggs, the male Dawin frogs carry the young tadpoles in its vocal sac (of all places!) for a fortnight. The footage was filmed and produced by EDGE Fellow Claudio Soto-Azat.

To read more about Darwin’s frog, see the EDGE blog: Life Within a Vocal Sac.

Activism: ban Atrazine in the US for the frogs (and yourself)

April 27th, 2011

Note: mongabay.com does not endorse the action below, but believes its readers may be interested in taking action or discussing the issue in comments.

For the third annual Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th), amphibian-lovers are taking the fight to Washington DC to rally at the Environmental Protection Agency for a ban on the herbicide Atrazine. Banned in the EU since 2004, Atrazine has been shown to chemically-castrate frogs at incredibly small quantities. In addition, the herbicide has been shown to cause cancer in mammals.

Save the Frogs! petition: Atrazine – Let’s Get It Banned.

According to the organization Save the Frogs! : “Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor that turns male frogs into females at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion. This horrible chemical causes cancer in laboratory mammals and developmental problems in fish. Atrazine is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in rainwater, groundwater and tapwater in the USA: atrazine spray gets lifted into the clouds, travels hundreds of miles and then falls down from the sky in rainwater — half a million pounds of it each year. Atrazine is one of the world’s most common pesticides: over 80 million pounds of it were used on American crops last year, and it has been in use for 50 years. Frogs and humans share half our DNA, so Atrazine can’t be good for humans either. That’s likely why the European Union banned the harmful pesticide in 2004. Now we need your help to get it banned in the United States.”

For more information on Save the Frogs! and the global Save the Frogs Day:

Save the Frogs Day focuses on banning Atrazine in US

(04/26/2011) This year’s Save the Frogs Day (Friday, April 29th) is focusing on a campaign to ban the herbicide Atrazine in the US with a rally at the steps of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kerry Kriger, executive director of frog-focused NGO Save the Frogs! and creator of Save the Frogs Day, says that Atrazine is an important target in the attempt to save amphibians worldwide, which are currently facing extinction rates that are estimated at 200 times the average. “Atrazine weakens amphibians’ immune systems, and can cause hermaphroditism and complete sex reversal in male frogs at concentrations as low as 2.5 parts per billion,” Kriger told mongabay.com.

Pictures: Saving threatened frogs

April 16th, 2011

Hand-feeding a sick Hyloscirtus colymba tree frog
Hand-feeding a sick Hyloscirtus colymba tree frog.

The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is racing to save amphibians as the deadly chytrid fungus spreads down Central America. The disease is presently between Panama City and Colon.

Juvenile Atelopus certus
Juvenile Atelopus certus.

Pristimantis species
Pristimantis species.

Undescribed Pristimantis species
Undescribed Pristimantis species.

Undescribed Pristimantis species
Juvenile Atelopus certus.

Atelopus limosus
Atelopus limosus.

More photos to come. All photos by Rhett A. Butler

Photos: Bornean gliding leopard tree frog

March 29th, 2011


The Bornean gliding leopard tree frog (Rhacophorus pardalis). Shots taken from a recent visit to Gunung Palung National Park in Kalimantan. Photos by Rhett A. Butler, 2011.

Photo: the shadow cast by a tree frog

March 23rd, 2011


A tree frog photographed in Amacayacu National Park, Colombia, 2010. We have been unable to identify this species, if you know please contact us. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

Video: bizarre purple frog sounds like a squeaky toy

March 10th, 2011

Native to India, the purple frog (Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis) is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The species is also a focal amphibian for the innovative ZSL EDGE program, which selects the species it works with based on their evolutionary uniqueness and threat level.

According to the EDGE website: “The purple frog is the sole representative of an ancient lineage of frogs that has been evolving independently for over 130 million years. [...] Formally discovered in 2003, the purple frog spends most of the year underground, surfacing only to breed during the monsoon. It was the first new family of frogs to be discovered since 1926. This species is threatened by ongoing forest loss for coffee, cardamom and ginger plantations.” Video courtesy of ZSL EDGE-TV.

Find the poison frog!

February 7th, 2011

Green Vine Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia. This species is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.   Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

Look closely to spot the Green and black poison dark frog (Dendrobates auratus in the rainforest canopy in Colombia. See more photos below of the frog in Colombia. Unlike many Neotropical frogs, this species is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Photos by Rhett A. Butler.

Click to see more photos of poison dart frogs.