Toad running under water, video


This video is about an European toad running under water.

Diver Jos van Zijl made this video in the Netherlands.

Saving Panama amphibians


This video says about itself:

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project’s New Rescue Lab

8 April 2015

Dr. Brian Gratwicke, international coordinator for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project and SCBI amphibian research scientist.

April 8, 2015—Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working together as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (PARC) opened a new safe haven for endangered amphibians today, April 8. The state-of-the-art, $1.2 million amphibian center at STRI’s Gamboa field station is the largest amphibian conservation facility of its kind in the world. The new center expands on the capacity of the El Valle amphibian conservation center to implement a national strategy to conserve Panama’s amphibian biodiversity by creating captive assurance populations.

Panama is a biodiversity hotspot for amphibians with more than 200 species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians.

For the past 20 years, however, many of Panama’s unique and endemic amphibian species have declined or disappeared as a result of the deadly chytrid fungus that has spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, a third of amphibian species in Panama are considered threatened or endangered. Amphibian conservationists around the world have been working to establish captive populations of the world’s most vulnerable amphibian species to safeguard them from extinction. Since 1980, 122 amphibian species are thought to have gone extinct worldwide, compared to just five bird species and no mammals during the same period.

“Our biggest challenge in the race to save tropical amphibians has been the lack of capacity,” said Brian Gratwicke, amphibian scientist at SCBI and international coordinator of PARC. “This facility will allow us to do so much more. We now have the space needed to safeguard some of Panama’s most vulnerable and beautiful amphibians and to conduct the research needed to reintroduce them back to the wild.”

The center features a working lab for scientists, a quarantine space for frogs collected from the wild and amphibian rescue pods capable of holding up to 10 species of frogs. In the working lab, SCBI scientists will continue research focusing on things like a cure for chytrid. They published findings last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society showing that certain Panamanian golden frogs were able to survive infection with chytrid as a result of a unique skin-microbe community already living on their skin. Seven amphibian rescue pods house the amphibian collection and colonies of insects needed to feed them. Amphibian rescue pods are constructed from recycled shipping containers that were once used to move frozen goods around the world and through the Panama Canal; they have been retrofitted to become mini-ecosystems with customized terrariums for each frog species.

“Our project is helping implement the action plan for amphibian conservation in Panama, authored by Panama’s National Environmental Authority—now Environment Ministry—in 2011,” said Roberto Ibañez, STRI project director for PARC. “This is only possible thanks to the interest in conservation of amphibian biodiversity by the government of Panama and the support we have received from businesses in Panama.”

The new rescue lab will be crucial to ongoing breeding efforts and breakthroughs, such as the successful hatching of an Andinobates geminisae froglet. SCBI and STRI scientists hatched the first A. geminisae froglet in human care in one of the amphibian rescue pods at the existing Gamboa amphibian conservation center. The tiny poison frog species, smaller than a dime, was discovered and described for the first time in Panama in 2014. They simulated breeding conditions in a rescue pod. The new facility will provide much-needed space to grow and expand, allowing them to build assurance populations for many more species. A small exhibition niche provides a window directly into an active rescue pod, where visitors can see rescued frogs and scientists as they work to conserve these endangered frogs.

PARC is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Zoo New England, SCBI and STRI. Funding for the new facilities was provided by Defenders of Wildlife, Frank and Susan Mars, Minera Panama, the National Science Foundation and USAID.

As a research facility, PARC is not open to the public. However, there are interpretive panels and a window into the research pod where visitors can get a glimpse of the project in action. To learn more, the public is welcome to visit the new Fabulous Frogs of Panama exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Punta Culebra Nature Center, located on the Amador Causeway.

Good Dutch kingfisher news


This is a video from Belarus about a kingfisher eating a frog.

Translated from the Dutch SOVON ornithologists:

Friday, April 10th, 2015

In 2014 the little kingfisher made a giant leap forward. Estimated at around 370 pairs in 2013, the numbers shot up. The first estimate for 2014 on the basis of breeding bird censuses for Sovon amounts to roughly 700 pairs. Thanks to the two recent mild winters, you are more and more likely to see a blue flash speeding along. 2015 may very probably become a record year again.

Common frogs mating season


This video shows a female common frog, with a male on either side of her.

Only the male on the female’s back will fertilize her spawn.

Bert Verbruggen in the Netherlands made this video.

European toad winking its eye, video


This video is about an European toad winking.

Nel Appelmelk from the Netherlands made the video.

Carboniferous forest simulation on your computer?


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From the Carboniferous Forest Simulation site, where you can download this program:

Carboniferous Forest Simulation

Lost in the darkness of our coal mines for more than 300 millions of years, the swamps and forests of the ancient past of our planet now come to new life:

A free, interactive realtime simulation places you into a time machine and enables you to take a walk through the overgrown jungle of ferns, tree-like clubmosses and giant insects our modern civilization was founded on.

The application is currently in alpha state. This means, that the application is not complete both technical and content-wise (for example plant descriptions and sound are not complete, and animals are still missing) and it may contain errors. Nevertheless, we decided to release it as early as possible to share the development progress with you. You can also track and discuss the progress in the interesting “Making of”-thread in The Fossil Forum.

In its final version, the application will be free for personal, museum and educational use, in its current alpha version it is only free for personal use.

Any feedback, hints and reviews by paleontologists, fossil specialists, game/simulation developers and any interested persons are highly appreciated!

Please note, that you will need a pretty tough computer to run the simulation. The minimum requirement is a 2.4 GHz Core I5 processor or similar, 4 GB of RAM and a 1GB 3D graphics card (at least Geforce 560TI or similar).

Shape-shifting frog discovered in Ecuador


Skin texture variation in one individual Pristimantis mutabilis; note how skin texture shifts from highly tubercular to almost smooth; also note the relative size of the tubercles on the eyelid, lower lip, dorsum and limbs. Image credit: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

From Sci-News.com:

Pristimantis mutabilis: Scientists Discover Shape-Shifting Frog in Ecuador

Mar 24, 2015

Case Western Reserve University PhD student Katherine Krynak, naturalist Tim Krynak of Cleveland Metroparks’ Natural Resources Division, and their colleagues from the Universidad Indoamerica, the University of Kansas, and organization Tropical Herping, have described a unique species of frog from Reserva Las Gralarias, Pichincha, north-central Ecuador. According to the team, the new species – named Pristimantis mutabilis (mutable rainfrog) – changes skin texture in minutes, appearing to mimic the texture it sits on.

Pristimantis mutabilis, described in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, is believed to be the first amphibian known to have this shape-shifting capability.

It belongs to a large genus of approximately 470 frog species found in the southern Caribbean and in Central and South America from Honduras to northern Argentina and southern Brazil.

The scientists believe the ability to change skin texture to reflect its surroundings may enable Pristimantis mutabilis to help camouflage itself from birds and other predators.

Katherine and Tim Krynak originally spotted the small, spiny frog, nearly the width of a marble, sitting on a moss-covered leaf about a yard off the ground on a misty July night in 2009.

The scientists captured one specimen and tucked it into a cup with a lid before resuming their nightly search for wildlife. They nicknamed the frog ‘punk rocker‘ because of the thorn-like spines covering its body.

The next day, Katherine Krynak pulled the frog from the cup and set it on a smooth white sheet of plastic for Tim Krynak to photograph. “It wasn’t ‘punk’ – it was smooth-skinned,” they said.

The scientists found the frog shifts skin texture in a little more than 3 minutes. They then performed morphological and genetic analyses showing that the frog was a unique and undescribed species.

They also studied the frog’s calls, finding three songs the species uses, which differentiate them from relatives.

In addition, team members Dr Juan Guayasamin and Dr Carl Hutter discovered that Pristimantis sobetes – a previously known species of frog with similar markings but about twice the size of Pristimantis mutabilis – has the same trait when they placed a spiny specimen on a sheet and watched its skin turn smooth.

The team plans to continue surveying for Pristimantis mutabilis and to further document their behaviors, lifecycle and texture shifting, and estimate their population, all in effort to improve our knowledge and subsequent ability to conserve this paradigm shifting species. Further, they hope to discern whether more relatives have the ability to shift skin texture and if that trait comes from a common ancestor.

If Pristimantis mutabilis and P. sobetes are the only species within this branch of Pristimantis frogs to have this capability, they hope to learn whether they retained it from an ancestor while relatives did not, or whether the trait evolved independently in each species.