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June 6, 2013

Declining Frog Species (Image 1)

A female Panamanian gold frog (Atelopus zeteki, in the family Bufonidae). This picture was taken in 2005 in Altos del Maria, east of El Cope, Panama, after the chytrid fungus epidemic had passed through this site.

First noted when the golden toad and about half of the frog species disappeared in Monteverde reserve in Costa Rica in 1987, the killer fungus has been spreading eastward through the Central American highlands and also through a large portion of the Andes Mountains (likely from a separate introduction) ever since.

Research by Andrew J. Crawford, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at the University of the Andes, Columbia, and a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, showed that the species declined by 88 percent. Today, A. zeteki can still be found in El Cope or Altos del Maria but rarely, and no sign of the population recovering has been observed.

You can read more about the deadly chytrid fungus in the National Science Foundation press release "Frog Killer Caught in the Act." To learn more about Crawford's research and what you can do to help with frog species decline, visit his website Here.

[The fieldwork for this research was supported by National Science Foundation grants GEO 02-13851, DEB 02-34386, DEB 01-30273 and a Small Grant for Exploratory Research, IOS 99-96355.] (Date of Image: 2005) [Image 1 of 3 related images. See Image 2.]

Credit: Andrew J. Crawford, Universidad de los Andes

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