New frog species discovery in Panama


The hololotype specimen, which scientists used as the basis to describe a new species of poison dart frog: Andinobates geminisae. Credit: Cesar Jaramillo, STRI

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Scientists find tiny, poisonous new mystery frog

Mysterious new species of poison dart frog can fit on a fingernail and could be under threat

Andrew Griffin

Sunday 28 September 2014

Scientists have discovered a new species of poison dart frog, small enough to fit on a fingernail but still bearing the toxic poison that gives the frogs their name.

Poison dart frogs — many of which are threatened species — live in Central and South America and secrete poisons that are used by hunters to make blowdarts. They are often brightly coloured, with varied colour patterns that scare off predators.

The new animal, found in Panama, is only 12.7 millimetres long. The frog’s smooth skin and its unique call mark it out as different from any of the other frogs in the region, and researchers are unsure how it came to look like it did.

Other frog’s poisons have been harnessed by hunters for weapons, but it is unlikely that the new discovery’s poison has ever been used in that way, Andrew Crawford, one of the authors of the study, told National Geographic. The new frog’s poison has yet to be analysed.

It has been called Andinobates geminisae, and a specimen was first collected in 2011. Scientists have been working since then to understand whether the animal was a new species, and to sequence its DNA.

Though researchers have seen the frog before, it was unclear whether it was just another variety of a similar species. Little is known about the species, but it appears to care for its young.

Because the animal can only be found in such a small area and so its existence could easily be threatened, scientists have laid out plans for how to protect the frog. That will involve including the frog in a captive breeding programme that helps protect amphibians from diseases and habitat loss.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

See also here.

Mexican cloud forest reserve gets bigger


This video from Mexico says about itself:

Roberto Pedraza, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda

World Land Trust (WLT) partner organisations give an insight into the conservation work they carry out to protect some of the most threatened habitats and wildlife on Earth.

From Wildlife Extra:

Chilean cloud forest reserve extended

A reserve in Sierra Gorda in Chile has been extended by 103 acres thanks to funding from the Buy an Acre fund of World Land Trust (WLT).

I think there is a mistake in the Wildlife Extra text here. The cloud forest reserve is in Mexico, not in Chile.

The purchased area of cloud forest lies on the southern border of the Cerro Prieto-Cerro la Luz, a reserve which is owned and managed by WLT’s conservation partner in Mexico, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG).

The extension will help protect a wide range of species including big cats such as pumas and jaguars, as well as amphibians such as tree frogs.

The purchase also means previous plans to build a road across the property cannot now go ahead, which helps protect the area from loggers.

Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Officer, explains: “With this new purchase we can completely block that road and without that road the loggers can’t take the timber out from our area.”

Prior to the purchase timber was being extracted and loggers were making roof shingles out of old growth cedars. That activity has now stopped thanks to the presence of GESG rangers.

Young herring gull in botanical garden


Herring gull, 8 September 2014

This is one of four cellphone photos in this blog post of a young herring gull on 8 September 2014. Swimming in the canal, it came closer and closer. Then, it walked up the bank near the old astronomical observatory in the botanical garden.

Herring gull, on 8 September 2014

It came closer and closer to the bench where we sat.

Herring gull close up, on 8 September 2014

And still closer. It even tried whether shoe laces are edible.

Herring gull and bench, 8 September 2014

Before we met that gull, we had seen that the botanical garden axolotls are again on show after the reconstruction of the hothouses, now in the orchid hothouse.

In the brook, pondskaters.

Amphibians of Meijendel nature reserve


Young tree frog, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

This is a photo of a young tree frog on the shoe of a natural history enthusiast in Meijendel nature reserve, north of The Hague in the Netherlands, on 6 September 2014. If you read on, then you will find out how that frog landed there.

That day, we went to a part of Meijendel, usually not open to the public. It is known as Kikkervalleien, frogs’ valleys, because of many amphibians living there.

In the Kikkervalleien, original wet sand dune valley situations have been restored. This means many small lakes with shallow water. Good conditions for amphibians, as there are often no predatory fish in the lakelets.

Traditionally, there used to be six amphibian species in nature reserve Meijendel.

Four of those are toads and frogs:edible frog, common frog, Eurasian toad, and natterjack toad.

Also two newt species, the common newt and the great crested newt, are traditional Meijendel denizens.

About 2007, two other species joined them.

They are the common Eurasian spadefoot toad; and the common tree frog.

The species which we saw most on 6 September were natterjack toads.

All still very small; most smaller than half a centimeter.

Natterjack toad, 6 September 2014

No matter how young natterjack toads are, they already have the characteristic stripe down their backs.

Common frog, 6 September 2014

The second most numerous species on 6 September were common frogs. Also mostly still young, but a bit bigger than the natterjack toads: over 1 centimeter. We also saw an adult.

Young tree frog on shoe, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

Then, the young common tree frog. It jumped around on the sand, till it jumped on the shoe. Then, it jumped higher, to a fold in trousers. Finally, it jumped off, to continue its journey in the dunes.

Young tree frog still on shoe, Meijendel, 6 September 2014

At the lakelet near the exit of the Kikkervalleien area, where the natterjack toad photo is from, there were also young common frogs. And small Eurasian toads.

And a young common newt.

Stay tuned, as there will be more posts on this blog about non-amphibian life forms of Meijendel, like birds, fungi and plants!

Vlieland island and its wildlife, video


This video is about Vlieland island in the Netherlands and its wildlife; like shorebirds at the mudflats, and edible frogs.

Dutch endangered species news


This video is about red deer in Veluwezoom National Park, The Netherlands.

The Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics writes about research about 1771 wildlife species in the Netherlands.

From 1950-1995, many species became endangered or even extinct.

The CBS writes this destructive trend did not continue in 1995-2013 because of pro-environment measures then.

Translated:

The percentage of endangered species [as part of total species] was in 2005 slightly higher than in 1995, but it was actually lower in 2013. Progress is strongest in dragonflies and mammals; these species were already progressing from 1995 on. Since 2005, we see slight improvements in higher plants, reptiles and breeding birds. In butterflies and amphibians, however, little or no recovery was found.

Good Guatemalan birds and amphibians news update


This video says about itself:

A singing male Pink-headed Warbler, Ergaticus (formerly Cardellina) versicolor, at the roadside edge of a large forest patch on the Ocosingo Highway in Chiapas, Mexico, on March 21, 2014.

From Wildlife Extra:

An important lagoon and montane forest property in Guatemala is purchased by conservation charity

Thanks to a donation from Puro Coffee the World Land Trust has the funds to help their partner Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) purchase Laguna Brava in western Guatemala.

The property measures 1,186 acres (480 hectares), with the lake (Yolnabaj) takes up just under half the area of the property. The remainder is made up of some of the last remnants of the region’s montane tropical karst forest on the northern, southern and eastern side of the lake.

It supports many rare species including amphibians and birds and is home to three species of tree frog that are listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, as well Lincoln’s Climbing Salamander, which is registered as Near Threatened.

The forest surrounding the lagoon hosts 72 different bird species including the Highlands Guan (Penelopina nigra), and the Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), both registered by IUCN as Vulnerable.

“FUNDAECO’s determination to create this reserve, which forms the first protected reserve in the region, will help many previously unprotected but Critically Endangered species,” said Charlotte Beckham, WLT’s Conservation Programmes Co-ordinator.

Read all about the conservation charity World Land Trust and the work it does HERE.