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National Zoo and partners first to breed critically endangered tree frog
Date:11/17/2010

As frogs around the world continue to disappearmany killed by a rapidly spreading disease called chytridiomycosis, which attacks the skin cells of amphibiansone critically endangered species has received an encouraging boost. Although the La Loma tree frog, Hyloscirtus colymba, is notoriously difficult to care for in captivity, the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is the first to successfully breed this species.

"We are some of the first researchers to attempt to breed these animals into captivity and we have very little information about how to care for them," said Brian Gratwicke, international coordinator for the project and a research biologist at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, one of nine project partners. "We were warned that we might not be able to keep these frogs alive, but through a little bit of guesswork, attention to detail and collaboration with other husbandry expertswe've managed to breed them. The lessons we're learning have put us on target to save this incredible species and our other priority species in Panama."

The rescue project currently has 28 adult La Loma tree frogs and four tadpoles at the Summit Municipal Park outside of Panama City, Panama. In addition to the La Loma tree frog, the project also has successfully bred the endangered Limosa harlequin frog, Atelopus limosus. Keepers will continue to carefully monitor the tadpoles of both species.

Nearly one-third of the world's amphibian species are at risk of extinction. The rescue project aims to save more than 20 species of frogs in Panama, one of the world's last strongholds for amphibian biodiversity. While the global amphibian crisis is the result of habitat loss, climate change and pollution, chytridiomycosis is likely at least partly responsible for the disappearances of 94 of the 120 frog species thought to have gone extinct since 1980.

"Although the outlook for amphibians is grim, the rescue project'
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Contact: Lindsay Renick Mayer
renickmayerl@si.edu
202-633-3081
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

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