Thousands of tadpoles, video


This video is about a ditch in the Netherlands with thousands of tadpoles.

Metsje de Jong made the video.

‘Extinct’ amphibians rediscovered in the Philippines


This video says about itself:

Philippines Herping Adventure Part One

13 April 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. See the people, ecology and herps in this adventure. Experience the diversity of the reptiles and amphibians of the Philippines.

And this video is the sequel. It says about itself:

7 May 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. Philippines herping Adventure Part Two continues the adventure somewhere near Tocloban. GuyGuy discovers snakes, geckos, frogs, birds and fish on this episode. Join him as he discovers the diversity of the rainforest.

From National Geographic:

“Extinct” Amphibians Rediscovered After Nearly Half a Century

Two species of amphibians thought lost to science have been found again in the mountain forests of the Philippines.

By Jason Bittel, National Geographic

June 02, 2015

It had been 50 years since anyone laid eyes on the Malatgan River caecilian, a legless amphibian native to the island province of Palawan in the Philippines.

Scientists feared the species, whose written record was lost in a museum destroyed during the Battle of Manila in World War II, was gone forever.

That is, until a team of scientists saw something slithering through the dirt during a recent trip to the Philippines. (Also see “Pictures: New Amphibians Without Arms or Legs Discovered.”)

“It was basically a coincidence,” says Rafe Brown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas who was on the expedition team led by the Philippines-based Centre for Sustainability. “One of the students happened to be walking by it and thought it was a worm. But lo and behold, it was a Malatgan River caecilian.”

Brown and his team have been wading across rivers and sifting through mud in the Palawan backcountry for over 15 years looking for signs of this and other species lost to science.

When the expedition finally stumbled across the serpentine amphibian, it was at the end of a road and a seven-hour hike beyond that from the nearest village. The area is known as Cleopatra’s Needle.

“This is an animal that doesn’t have any flashy colors or anything like that, but it’s one of those last, iconic species that we couldn’t find,” says Brown. (See “Photos: Ten Most Wanted ‘Extinct’ Amphibians.”)

Remarkably, the expedition also found the Palawan toadlet (Pelophryne albotaeniata), which had been missing for the last 40 years.

Lost and Found

The rediscoveries are the result of a biodiversity survey launched in December 2014 and carried out by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, and Rainforest Trust.

“When we started this project, we didn’t know for sure if these animals were there,” says Robin Moore, conservation officer with the Amphibian Survival Alliance.

“For me, it’s incredible to find these two amphibians after not seeing them for decades. It highlights how much is out there that we don’t know.” (See “Photos: Bubble-nest Frog, Other ‘Extinct’ Species Found.”)

Joseph Mendelson, a herpetologist and director of research at Zoo Atlanta, adds that “discoveries like this reinforce the importance of continued biodiversity surveys around the world.”

New small frog species discovery on Brazilian mountaintops


This 2007 video from Brazil is about a Brachycephalus pernix frog, a relative of the recently discovered species.

This is another 2007 video about Brachycephalus pernix.

And this 2013 Brazilian video is about Brachycephalus tridactylus, another relative.

And this 2012 Brazilian video is about Brachycephalus nodoterga.

And this December 2014 video, recorded in Brazil, is about Brachycephalus pitanga.

This March 2014 video is about the skeleton of Brachycephalus ephipium.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Seven new species of miniature frogs discovered in cloud forests of Brazil

Tiny frogs smaller in size than bumblebees have evolved with fewer fingers and toes to reduce their size to adapt to life on isolated mountaintops

Karl Mathiesen

Thursday 4 June 2015 17.08 BST

Seven new species of miniature frog, smaller than bumblebees, have been discovered clinging to survival on isolated mountaintops in Brazil.

The largest of the new discoveries has a maximum adult length of just 13mm. The frogs, which are among the smallest land vertebrates, have evolved with fewer fingers and toes in order to reduce their size.

Miniaturisation allows the frogs to emerge from their eggs as fully-formed, albeit tiny, adults. This means they do not go through a tadpole stage and can survive far from standing water. Highly efficient absorption allows them to stay hydrated by soaking water from damp ground through the skin on their bellies.

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, led a team of researchers on a five-year exploration of the mountainous cloud forests on the southern Atlantic coast of Brazil. They published their study in the journal PeerJ on Thursday.

“Although getting to many of the field sites is exhausting, there was always the feeling of anticipation and curiosity about what new species could look like”, said Pie.

The frogs are all species from the Brachycephalus genus, which are often tiny in size.

They live on ‘sky islands’, areas of high forest on mountains surrounded by lower altitude rainforest. The tiny frogs are highly adapted to their conditions and sometimes restricted to a single mountain. There they have evolved in isolation over millennia – much like the unique species on separate Galapagos islands that so fascinated Charles Darwin.

Pie said this extreme endemism makes them exceptionally vulnerable to changes in their habitat. Their major threats are illegal logging and changes to cloud forests caused by climate change. None of the newly-described species are in reserves and many live relatively close to cities where the forest can be more easily impacted.

“The really big concern is climate change because the cloud forest depends on the delicate balance between the water that comes form the ocean and the topography. If there’s some sort of warming it’s possible that that sort of really humid forest will disappear and with that all the endemic species, not only our frogs but other types of organisms,” he said.

The study increases the number of recognised species in the genus by 50% to a total of 21.

Luiz Ribeiro, a research associate to the Mater Natura Institute for Environmental Studies, said the new discoveries suggested there were many more to find. “This is only the beginning, especially given the fact that we have already found additional species that we are in the process of formally describing.”

The find comes against a background of catastrophic amphibian decline worldwide caused by a chytrid fungus. At least 200 species of frog have been driven to extinction or declined because of the disease the fungus causes. Pie said the frogs may be protected from chytrid by their ability to survive away from the water sources where the fungus is often found.

Tunnels saving toads from traffic, new research


This 3 June 2015 Dutch video, in English, is about tunnels saving common toads from traffic. How effective are they?

New research in Ede town in Gelderland province says that of 800 toads on one side of a dangerous road, 300 animals used the tunnels. So, the tunnels do work; but not enough yet. There should be more tunnels, decreasing the distances the toads have to go before reaching a tunnel.

Madagascar’s new nature reserves


This video says about itself:

Birds & More: Madagascar Safari

8 August 2012

Extraordinary place. 80 % of the species are endemic. 6 endemic families of birds. The lemurs were wonderful, so different from monkeys, probably because of a lack of predators. The “spiny” forests are well named and feature the most fascinating baobab trees.

From BirdLife:

New protected areas in Madagascar

By Martin Fowlie, Tue, 02/06/2015 – 09:47

Three of the most important sites in Madagascar for nature have been given permanent protection by the Government of Madagascar, thanks largely to the efforts of Asity Madagascar (BirdLife in Madagascar).

The sites – the Mahavavy-Kinkony Wetland Complex, Mangoky-Ihotry Wetland Complex and Tsitongambarika Forest – protect almost 800,000 ha of Madagascar’s ecosystems and are host to an array of endemic and threatened species and habitats.

From Sakalava Rail and Madagascar Fish Eagle of the wetlands, to the rainforest flora and fauna of Tsitongambarika, the diversity of wildlife is breathtaking. The list of species also includes still unnamed, newly discovered frogs and reptiles.

Combined, the sites protect 18 Threatened and 8 Near Threatened bird species, the two wetlands each holding a remarkable four to five Endangered and one Critically Endangered species.

Asity Madagascar is co-manager of each of the sites together with local communities, and has already been fulfilling this role to ensure the sites’ conservation for several years. Previously unprotected, they were made temporary Protected Areas in 2008 and protection has now been made permanent. This, alongside the development of Asity Madagascar as a strong, national conservation NGO, is an amazing achievement from the 18 years since BirdLife began working in Madagascar.

Even though the protection does not come with funding and other resources for management, these are no mere ‘paper parks’. The work to protect these areas began over 10 years ago, and management activities have shown some excellent successes in all three sites. The designations will provide many benefits to help to expand this, including a legal framework, incentives and political backing for conservation and sustainable development of the sites, preventing large-scale developments that could damage them.

“Legal permanent protection of these sites gives long term security to all Asity’s efforts as well as biodiversity conservation”, said Vony Raminoarisoa, Director of Asity Madagascar.

Find out more about the project here.

Dutch wildlife video


This video by Clifton Buitink from the Netherlands is called Dutch Nature 2.0.

It features wildlife like a kingfisher, grey lag geese, a northern lapwing, turtles, frogspawn etc.

Top Ten wildlife species discoveries of 2015


This video from the USA says about itself:

ESF Top 10 Species of 2015

21 May 2015

ESF’s International Institute of Species Exploration has announced the top 10 newly discovered species from 2014! ESF President and IISE Director Quentin Wheeler tells us about the remarkable, beautiful and bizarre species that made this year’s list.

Learn more about the Top 10 Species of 2015 here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Top 10 new species for 2015 announced

A list of the top 10 new species for 2015, compiled annually by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), has been announced to coincide with the anniversary of the birth on May 23 of Carolus Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who is considered to be the father of modern taxonomy. An international committee of taxonomists from the ESF’s International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) selected the Top 10 from among the approximately 18,000 new species named during 2014.

The annual list, established in 2008, calls attention to discoveries that are made even as species are going extinct faster than they are being identified. Scientists believe 10 million species await discovery, five times the number that are already known to science.

“The last vast unexplored frontier on Earth is the biosphere. We have only begun to explore the astonishing origin, history, and diversity of life,” says Dr. Quentin Wheeler, ESF president and founding director of the IISE. “An inventory of plants and animals begun in the 18th century continues apace with the discovery of about 18,000 additional species each year. The nearly two million species named to date represent a small fraction of an estimated 12 million.

“Among the remaining 10 million are irreplaceable clues to our own origins, a detailed blueprint of how the biosphere self-organised, and precious clues to better, more efficient, and more sustainable ways to meet human needs while conserving wild living things. It is time to mount a mission to planet Earth to distinguish, describe, name and classify its life-forms before it is too late. The Top 10 is a reminder of the wonders awaiting us.”

THE TOP 10 SPECIES OF 2015

Feathered Dinosaur: ‘Chicken from Hell’
Anzu wyliei
Location: U.S.A.

How it made the Top 10: With a mixture of bird and dinosaur features, Anzu wyliei is from a bird-like group of dinosaurs that lived in North America. A contemporary of the more famous T. rex and Triceratops, this species made nests and sat on the eggs until they hatched. Among their bird-like features were feathers, hollow bones and a short snout with a parrot-like beak. These omnivores appear to have lived on floodplains eating vegetation, small animals and possibly eggs. Three well-preserved partial skeletons were discovered in North and South Dakota, in the Hell Creek Formation. Because some caenagnathids were chicken-sized, this new dinosaur was dubbed “chicken from Hell.” However, at more than 10 feet in length (3.5m), 5 feet in height (1.5m) and 600 pounds (200-300kg), this was no chicken.

Coral Plant: Atypical Tubers
Balanophora coralliformis
Location: Philippines

How it made the Top 10: This parasitic plant, discovered and almost immediately considered endangered, has elongated, repeatedly branching, and rough-textured aboveground tubers. These peculiar tubers give this root parasite from the Philippines a coral-like appearance distinct from the more typical underground tubers of related species. Parasitic plants do not contain chlorophyll and are incapable of photosynthesis, so they draw their nutrition from other living plants. This species is, so far, known from fewer than 50 plants, all found between 4,800 and 5,600 feet (1,465 and 1,735 m) elevation on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Mingan in mossy forest areas. Because so few plants are known to exist, and the narrow area in which they live is unprotected, the scientists who described it consider the plant critically endangered.

Cartwheeling Spider: Spinning in the Sand
Cebrennus rechenbergi
Location: Morocco

How it made the Top 10: This agile arachnid from the desert uses a gymnast’s trick to escape from threatening situations: It cartwheels its way out of danger. When danger comes calling, the spider first assumes a threatening posture. If the danger persists, the spider runs and, about half the time that running turns into cartwheeling which is twice as fast. Terrain is not a challenge: the spider can spin across flat ground as well as up and down hills. Rather than attempting to cartwheel away, the spider propels itself toward the source of the threat, perhaps invoking the theory that the best defense is a good offense. In the barren sand dunes where the spider lives, running away can prove pointless because there is no place to hide. The high temperatures of its desert habitat would be fatal to the spider if it persisted in this high-energy routine for long, so cartwheeling is thought to be an escape option of last resort. Even before the spider had been officially named, its behavior inspired a biomimetic robot that can similarly walk or roll.

The X-Phyla: Mysterious Newcomers
Dendrogramma enigmatica
Location: Australia

How it made the Top 10: Dendrogramma enigmatica and a second new species, D. discoid[e]s, are multicellular animals that look rather like mushrooms, with a mouth at the end of the “stem” and the other end in the form of a flattened disc. The best information suggests that they are related to the phylum Cnidaria (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones and hydras) or Ctenophora (comb jellies) or both, but the new animals lack evolutionary novelties unique to either and could be an entirely new phylum. They also resemble fossils from Precambrian time, perhaps making them living fossils of sorts. The mystery surrounding this animal accounts for its name, and its relationships are likely to remain enigmatic until specimens can be collected suitable for DNA analysis. The new animal is small, with a stalk less than a third of an inch (8 mm) in length and a “cap” that measures less than a half-inch (11mm) across. It was found on the sea floor, at a depth of about 3,200 feet (1,000 meters), off Point Hicks, Victoria.

Bone-house Wasp: Morbid Motherhood
Deuteragenia ossarium
Location: China

How it made the Top 10: This insect, which tops out at about a half-inch (15mm) in length, has a unique way to protect its offspring. The wasp constructs nests in hollow stems with several cells, each separated by soil walls. The wasp kills and deposits one spider in each cell to provide nourishment for her developing young. Once her egg is laid, she seals off the cell and hunts a spider for the next cell. Rather than provisioning the final or vestibule cell with a spider, she fills it with as many as 13 bodies of dead ants, thus creating a chemical barrier to the nest. This is the first animal known to take this approach to securing the front door to a nest. This species, found in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve in eastern China, has significantly lower parasitism rates than similar cavity-nesting wasps. Camouflage is supplied by a veil of volatile chemicals emitted by the dead ants, thwarting enemies that hunt wasp larvae by scent.

Indonesian Frog: A Tad Unusual
Limnonectes larvaepartus
Location: Indonesia

How it made the Top 10: There’s an exception to every rule and the newest species of fanged frog is such an exception. Unlike other frogs, Limnonectes larvaepartus from Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, gives birth to tadpoles that are deposited in pools of water. On one occasion, a female gave birth to a tadpole in the hand of a scientist at the moment she was captured. Fewer than a dozen of the world’s 6,455 frog species have internal fertilization and all except this new species lay fertilized eggs or give birth to tiny froglets. The species, about 1.5 inches long (40mm), is found in the island’s Northern Peninsula on the western edge of the Central Core. The region has not been fully explored for frogs, so the extent of this species’ range is not yet known. The frogs live in natural and disturbed forest habitats, often in areas occupied by one to five other species of the same genus. The frogs are found above flowing streams in leaf litter, grassy vegetation, or on rocky substrates.

Walking Stick: Not So Giant
Phryganistria tamdaoensis
Location: Vietnam

How it made the Top 10: While this new stick insect is not the world’s longest, it belongs to a family known as giant sticks. At 9 inches in length, Phryganistria tamdaeoensis is compelling evidence that, in spite of their size, more giant sticks remain to be discovered and our knowledge of these masters of camouflage is far from complete. This giant stick is common in the town of Tam Dao visited by many entomologists, yet it escaped notice until now. If you would like to see one of these big bugs up close, you are in luck. Living specimens are on display at the vivarium of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. The newcomer gets its name from the beautiful Tam Dao National Park in a mountainous area in the northwestern part of Vietnam. By the way, the record is held by Chan’s megastick, Phobaeticus chani, at more than 22 inches (567 mm), named in 2008 from Borneo.

Sea Slug: Beauty of the Deep
Phyllodesmium acanthorhinum
Location: Japan

How it made the Top 10: For this sea slug, the Top 10 competition was more than a beauty contest. It is a “missing link” between sea slugs that feed on hydroids and those specializing on corals. Gastropods do not get more photogenic than sea slugs whose graceful lines and vivid coloration make them beauties of the deep. This new species, which photographs in shades of blue, red and gold, also contributed to a better understanding of the origin of an unusual symbiosis in other species of the genus. Related sea slugs have multi-branched guts in which algae called zooanthellae live. These algae have a primary symbiotic relationship with the corals on which the sea slugs feed. Once sequestered in the gut, the photosynthetic algae produce nutrients of benefit to the host. The newly identified species is an inch long, more or less (17-28 mm), and resides in the Japanese islands.

Bromeliad: Feliz Navidad
Tillandsia religiosa
Location: Mexico

How it made the Top 10: During Christmas celebrations in Mexico, elaborate altar scenes or “nacimientos” depicting the birth of Christ are assembled by villagers. In Sierra de Tepoztlán, Tlayacapan, San José de los Laureles, and Tepoztlán, a beautiful bromeliad plant is frequently incorporated in the display. The plant turned out to be new to science. Tillandsia religiosa, with its rose-colored spikes and flat green leaves, can be found growing up to 5 feet tall (1.5m) in rocky habitat in northern regions of Morelos, Mexico. Stemless, solitary plants are found on cliffs and vertical walls in deciduous, coniferous, oak and cloud forests at altitudes between 6,000 and 7,000 feet (1,800 to 2,100 m) elevation, where they flower from December to March. The bromeliad is an example of a species long known to local inhabitants but only recently discovered by science.

Pufferfish: ‘Crop Circles’ under the Sea
Torquigener albomaculosus
Location: Japan

How it made the Top 10: Scientists recently solved a 20-year-old mystery under the sea and discovered a new fish. Intricate circles with geometric designs about six feet (2 meters) in diameter, found on the seafloor off the coast of Amami-Ōshima Island, were as weird and unexplained as crop circles. They turn out to be the work of a new species of pufferfish, Torquigener albomaculosus. Males construct these circles as spawning nests by swimming and wriggling in the seafloor sand. The nests, used only once, are made to attract females. The nests have double edges and radiating troughs in a spoke-like geometry. The design isn’t just for show. Scientists discovered the ridges and grooves of the circle serve to minimize ocean current at the center of the nest. This protects the eggs from the turbulent waters and possibly predators too. Yoji Okata, an underwater photographer, first observed the artistic behavior. Subsequently, a team of ichthyologists and a television crew carried out an expedition to record the phenomenon.