Brightly Colored Frog Has Dark Future [LiveScience 2007-10-30]
Biologists are shining a spotlight on a brightly colored frog whose future looks dark.
The splendid leaf frog (Cruziohyla calcarifer) lives in the tree canopy of the Costa Rican rainforest where it bathes in the tropical sun rays. As is the case with amphibians across the globe, loss of native habitat, environmental change and disease has sent the splendid leaf frog teetering on the brink of extinction.
Scientists from the University of Manchester and the Chester Zoo are teaming up to study the frog species in the field and in the zoo, hoping their findings will not only help save the splendid leaf frog from extinction in the wild but provide clues as to how it can be better catered for in zoos.
“This research aims to contribute to our understanding of the basic factors that influence the development and survival of these frogs,” said project supervisor Richard Preziosi of the University of Manchester in the UK.
“For instance, with the exception of certain mammals, we know surprisingly little about what animals should be eating. And yet the diet of splendid leaf frogs affects their coloration which, in turn, determines their mating behavior."
The project results could shed light on conservation of other frog species in dire straits. Nearly a third of the world’s 6,000 amphibian species are threatened with extinction and more than 120 species have already vanished from the planet.
The major disease affecting global amphibian populations is caused by the Chytrid fungus which attacks the harder, keratin-rich areas of the animal's skin, predominantly its feet, before spreading through the rest of its body, almost always with fatal consequences.