Tuesday, June 15, 2010

UPDATE - Saving Darwin's Frogs

Most everyone knows it is not a good time to be an amphibian. Chytrid fungus, global warming, rampant contamination of air and water....it's depressing just writing about it. GreenTracks got to lend a helping hand when Bill Lamar went to Santiago, Chile, last September to assist in setting up breeding units to aid in conservation of Darwin's Frog.

Not only is the frog, a native of South America's southern temperate rainforests, a beautiful creature, but also we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of its namesake: Charles Darwin. Darwin discovered this little frog during his epic voyage on the HMS Beagle.

Funded by the Atlanta Botanical Garden the new facility is in Chile's excellent National Zoo, and without their enthusiastic help, the task of getting everything assembled would have been impossible, and a lot less pleasant. The project is also funding critical field work in order to establish how much suitable habitat and how many frog populations remain. GreenTracks is committed to conserving the Earth's resources and we join all Chileans in the hope that this project will be a success.

We are all very pleased with how the climate control worked through the heat of Santiago’s summer. We wanted to wait to add frogs to the facility until we were sure all environmental systems were on line and working properly. We also added some safety precautions just in case something interrupted power or water services. One of our interpretive features includes a large statue of a Darwin’s Frog built by Chilean artist Bernardo Oryan. Our hope is that the large figure will draw in folks to the breeding center where they can investigate the frogs and our project.

Update - May 14, 2010
Once all of the environmental systems in our captive breeding facility checked out, we added our first group of frogs. Somewhat surprisingly, the frogs immediately began enacting reproductive behavior. We had calling and a bit of dancing around between males and females. We are happy to report that we already have at least one male frog holding developing young in his vocal sac!

This is the the female that we believe bred with our male. Her job is now done. Female frogs deposit eggs and the male frogs take over from there.

This is the male Darwin's Frog that is holding developing young in his vocal sac.

Saving Darwin's Frog



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