Amphibian Survival Alliance

Warrenton, VA, United States

Amphibian Survival Alliance

Warrenton, VA, United States
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Chevis M.G.,University of Exeter | Godley B.J.,University of Exeter | Lewis J.P.,Amphibian Survival Alliance | Lewis J.J.,MarAlliance | And 3 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2017

Understanding the ecological interactions that underlie marine ecosystem functioningrequires sufficient data describing habitat use by mobile species. Hawksbill turtles Eretmo -chelys imbricata are considered a key species in coral reef-associated communities, owing totheir specific foraging preferences, yet new information is still revealing details of the spatialand temporal aspects of habitat use. We used passive acoustic telemetry to monitor the movementsof 18 juvenile hawksbills (minimum curved carapace length: 32.0-59.7 cm, mean ± SD =43.9 ± 6.7 cm) at a developmental foraging site in a Mesoamerican barrier reef, Lighthouse ReefAtoll in Belize (tracking duration 10-1414 d, mean ± SD = 570 ± 484 d). Although specific homeranges were difficult to quantify, several turtles showed high site fidelity over timescales ofmonths to years, with occasional wide-ranging use of the atoll. Diel variation in the number ofdetections received strongly suggest nocturnal resting. Long-term tracking data reveal 3 de -grees of site fidelity across the atoll, based on the number of detection days near individual stations:high residency (n = 4 turtles), sequential residency (n = 5), and transient behavior (n = 4).These variations in movement raise questions about the differentiation of foraging habitats anddegree of individual specialization within this population, as well as the influences of microhabitatsand human disturbance. © The authors 2017.

Jarvis L.E.,Epping Forest Field Center | Angulo A.,International Union for Conservation of Nature | Angulo A.,Conservation Fund | Catenazzi A.,Southern Illinois University Carbondale | And 4 more authors.
Tropical Conservation Science | Year: 2015

Peru supports approximately 588 amphibian species, of which 492 have been assessed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Of these, 111 are classified as Threatened, with 69 species classified as Critically Endangered or Endangered. In addition, 140 amphibian species remain Data Deficient. We re-assessed the conservation status of 38 amphibian species originally identified as potentially Threatened by von May et al. (2008), using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Fourteen species assessments changed as a result of re-assessment, of which eight changed from Data Deficient to Threatened; two changed from Data Deficient to Near Threatened and Least Concern respectively; two were up-listed from Least Concern to a Threatened status; two were down-listed. None of the changes were due to a known genuine change since the previous assessment. All changes were justified by an increase in knowledge. The eight species with a change from Data Deficient to a Threatened category belonged to four anuran families: Craugastoridae, Dendrobatidae, Hemiphractidae and Telmatobiidae. The reasons for a change in assessment status were: changes in taxonomy, distribution, population status, threat status, or previously incorrect information. The main threat affecting re-assessed amphibian species was habitat loss, with other threats including pollution, disease outbreaks, and collection for the pet trade. Only 53% of the re-assessed species were found to occur in a protected area. Findings of this study indicate the continuing fragility of many Peruvian amphibians and highlight the need for improving their protection and for further research into their population status and threats. © Laurence E. Jarvis, Ariadne Angulo, Alessandro Catenazzi, Rudolf von May, Jason L. Brown, Edgar Lehr and James Lewis.

Bishop P.J.,University of Otago | Angulo A.,Rue Mauverney 28 | Lewis J.P.,IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group | Moore R.D.,IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group | And 2 more authors.
Sapiens | Year: 2012

The current mass extinction episode is most apparent in the amphibians. With approximately 7,000 species, amphibians are dependent on clean fresh water and damp habitats and are considered vulnerable to habitat loss (deforestation), changes in water or soil quality and the potential impacts of climate change, and in addition many species are suffering from an epidemic caused by a chytrid fungus. Because of their sensitivity and general dependence on both terrestrial and aquatic habitats they are often regarded as indicators of the health of the environment. The latest figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™ show that there are nearly as many species of amphibians categorised as Threatened as those of Threatened birds and mammals put together, with an estimated 40% of amphibian species in danger of extinction. Furthermore, although amphibians have survived multiple previous global mass extinctions, in the last 20-40 years precipitous population declines have taken place on a scale not previously seen. Although amphibian declines were first reported in the 1950s, the magnitude and global scope of the problem were only fully realised during discussions at the 1st World Congress of Herpetology in England in 1989. Shortly thereafter, the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force (DAPTF) was established by the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) to investigate the causes and severity of the declines. Many projects and publications were stimulated by the DAPTF and the results of these prompted the IUCN to conduct a global amphibian assessment in 2004. IUCN SSC's Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) was published in 2007, following an Amphibian Conservation Summit held in 2005. The ACAP identified the key issues that require attention in order to curb this crisis, and provided the framework for interventions. While there have been significant efforts in the last five years, the response to the crisis has not progressed across all areas of the action plan at a scale sufficient to halt the crisis. As a direct result, species continue to decline and go extinct. Finding solutions to counter amphibian declines and extinctions is one of the greatest conservation challenges of the century, which comes with alarming and serious implications for the health of ecosystems globally. The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), launched in June 2011, acts as a global partnership for amphibian conservation. It is in a pivotal position to implement the ACAP, acting to mobilise a motivated and effective consortium of organisations working together to stem the rapid losses of amphibian populations and species worldwide. The Alliance brings focus, coordination, and leadership in addressing one of the world's most serious extinction crises. Its goal is the restoration of all threatened native amphibian species to their natural roles and population levels in ecosystems worldwide. The recently formed Amphibian Survival Alliance will address the multiple ACAP issues with several new initiatives, including creating a web-based 'living' version of ACAP and driving the implementation of the ACAP themes in a more progressive and collaborative manner than ever before, thereby stemming the loss of an important part of the biological diversity of our planet. © Author(s) 2012.

News Article | December 10, 2015

"We are more encouraged by this response than any previous response to an amphibian emergency," said James Lewis, ASA's director of operations. "What we have seen here is an amazingly strong collaboration and open response from all stakeholders. We not only have the science community talking, but we also have the pet industry, private pet owners, policymakers, animal welfare advocates and the conservation community putting aside differences and coming together." It has been one year since scientists in Europe broke the news of their alarming discovery of the pathogen, Batrachocytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal), which is similar to a fungal pathogen that has devastated populations of frogs in the neotropics, Australia and the western United States. The story published today in PLOS Pathogens summarizes the swift action the conservation community has already taken to prevent the spread of Bsal in North America and lays out plans to respond swiftly if it does arrive. Some actions have included: Conservation organizations have also been calling for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to put into place rules that would aid in preventing the fungal pathogen from reaching North America, but so far USFWS hasn't taken such action. "What we really need is to keep Bsal out of North America as long as possible, allowing us time to better understand this pathogen and how to address it," said Priya Nanjappa, amphibian and reptile conservation policy lead for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "Unfortunately the policy tools are just not in place for swift action, even when urgency is required." "North America's diversity of salamander species truly makes this region of the natural world special," said Matthew Gray, professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Tennessee. "Salamanders provide society numerous benefits including use as educational tools, in carbon cycling, and even in shedding light on biomedical procedures." "Fifty percent of the 682 salamander species are only found in North America, and in some cases, although they may be cryptic and difficult to find, they make up a signiicant proportion of the biomass in forests" said Phil Bishop, Professor of Zoology at New Zealand's University of Otago and Chief Scientist for the Amphibian Survival Alliance. "In particular, Mexico and the Appalachian Mountains are collectively home to more than 100 species of lungless salamanders, which could be wiped out by this emerging disease." Explore further: Salamanders under threat from deadly skin-eating fungus

Hernandez-Banos B.E.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Zamudio-Beltran L.E.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Eguiarte-Fruns L.E.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Klicka J.,University of Washington | Garcia-Moreno J.,Amphibian Survival Alliance
Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad | Year: 2014

Hummingbirds are one of the most diverse families of birds and the phylogenetic relationships within the group have recently begun to be studied with molecular data. Most of these studies have focused on the higher level classification within the family, and now it is necessary to study the relationships between and within genera using a similar approach. Here, we investigated the taxonomic status of the genus Hylocharis, a member of the Emeralds complex, whose relationships with other genera are unclear; we also investigated the existence of the Basilinna genus. We obtained sequences of mitochondrial (ND2: 537 bp) and nuclear genes (AK-5 intron: 535 bp, and c-mos: 572 bp) for 6 of the 8 currently recognized species and outgroups. Our analyses, using 3 different inference methods (Maximun Parsimony, Likelihood and Bayesian methods), corroborate the existence of the hummingbird genus Basilinna as composed of 2 species commonly assigned to the genus Hylocharis: leucotis and xantusii. Our study also supports that Hylocharis is a paraphyletic genus that includes species belonging to the genus Amazilia. © 2014, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. All rights reserved.

Arbelaez-Cortes E.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Navarro-Siguenza A.G.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Garcia-Moreno J.,Amphibian Survival Alliance
Zoologica Scripta | Year: 2012

Phylogeny of woodcreepers of the genus Lepidocolaptes (Aves, Furnariidae), a widespread Neotropical taxon. The phylogeny of the genus Lepidocolaptes was reconstructed based on three mitochondrial DNA regions and one nuclear DNA intron, using Bayesian analysis. A general pattern of diversification among the lowland species followed by the diversification of highland species, and a close relationship among montane species with the two Atlantic Forest endemics, seem to depict the history of this genus. Results also showed that the two Mesoamerican species are sister-taxa with high support. Finally, our data also suggest the existence of previously unknown intraspecific genetic structure within some taxa, especially among populations of Lepidocolaptes souleyetii. © 2012 The Authors. Zoologica Scripta © 2012 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

News Article | January 21, 2016

For more than a century, two mysterious tree frog specimens collected by a British naturalist in 1870 and housed at the Natural History Museum in London were assumed to be part of a vanished species, never again found in the wild. Until now. A group of scientists, led by renowned Indian biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju, has rediscovered the frogs and also identified them as part of a new genus - one step higher than a species on the taxonomic ranking. Not only have they found the frogs in abundance in northeast Indian jungles, they believe they could also be living across a wide swathe of Asia from China to Thailand. "This is an exciting find, but it doesn't mean the frogs are safe," Biju said, adding that he hopes the discovery leads to more awareness of the dangers of unfettered development to the animals. The frogs were found at high altitudes in four northeast Indian states, underlining the rain-soaked region's role as a biodiversity hotspot. Some of the forest areas where Biju's team collected frogs in 2007 and 2008 were already slashed and burned by 2014 for agricultural development. The region's tropical forests are quickly disappearing because of programs to cut trees, plant rice, expand human settlements and build roads. Industrial growth amid a decade-long economic boom has also increased pollution, to which frogs are particularly vulnerable. That same sensitivity to climate and water quality makes them perfect environmental barometers, putting them at risk when ecological systems go awry. Of the more than 7,000 amphibian species known globally, about 32 percent are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "This frog is facing extreme stress in these areas, and could be pushed to extinction simply from habitat loss," Biju said. "We're lucky in a way to have found it before that happens, but we're all worried." Finding the frogs was an accident. The team had been searching the forest floor for other amphibians in 2007 when, one night, "we heard a full musical orchestra coming from the treetops. It was magical. Of course we had to investigate," Biju said. For the study of the new frog genus, Frankixalus, published Wednesday by the Public Library of Science journal PLOS ONE, Biju and his doctoral students teamed up with researchers from the central Indian state of Pune, Sri Lanka, Brussels and the American Museum of Natural History. They looked at the frogs' behavior, collected specimens and described their outer appearance and skeletal features. But it wasn't until they had sequenced the frogs' genetic code that they confirmed it as a new genus, and surprisingly found another DNA match from a single tadpole specimen reported recently under a mistaken identity in China. The frogs had long been considered lost to science, with the first - and only - previously known specimens collected in 1870 by British naturalist T.C. Jerdon in the forests of Darjeeling. Over decades, the frogs were reclassified at least four times in cases of incorrect identity as scientists drew conclusions from their enlarged snouts or the webbing between their toes. Biju believes the frogs remained hidden from science so long because of their secretive lifestyle living in tree holes at heights up to 6 meters (20 feet) above ground. Most tree frogs live in shrubs or tree holes closer to the ground. But other experts suggest that, while the uniquely high habitat does make them hard to find, the frogs probably remained in obscurity simply because there are so few scientists working in the remote region. "This part of Southeast Asia, in particular, is poorly inventoried," said James Hanken, a biology professor and director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Given the habitat threats and alarming rate of extinctions worldwide, he said the "remarkable" tree frog find "points out that we may be losing even more species than we know or can fully document." "It doesn't in any way offset the tragic losses represented by global amphibian extinction," said Hanken, who was not involved in the tree frog study. Biju's team named the new frog genus Frankixalus after herpetologist Franky Bossuyt, who was Biju's adviser when he was a student at the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels. Only two species within the genus have been identified, including the Frankixalus jeronii first described in the 19th century. The scientists are still trying to confirm whether a second collected species was mistakenly named within another genus of tree frogs. There are now 18 tree frog genera known worldwide. The study documents the tree frogs' unusual maternal behavior, with the females laying fertilized eggs in a tree hole filled with water, and then returning at regular intervals after the tadpoles hatch to feed them with unfertilized eggs. "This is incredible," Biju said, excitedly dumping a pile of pickled tadpoles onto a glass-covered table in his office at the University of Delhi, and selecting one to place under a microscope. The magnification reveals a clutch of undigested eggs still inside the tadpole's belly. "Do you see these eggs? Just imagine, the mother is coming back over and over and dropping these eggs for her babies to eat." Rather than nascent teeth, the tadpoles have smooth, suction-like mouths to pull in the eggs. Their eyes are positioned on the top of their heads, rather than on the sides. Biju suggested the feature may help the tadpoles see eggs being dropped by mother frogs into the hole during feeding time. Fully grown, the frogs are about as big as a golf ball. Uniquely, they feed mostly on vegetation, rather than insects and larvae. "Frogs have been around for 350 million years, and have evolved to face so many habitat challenges," said Biju, who is known in India by the nickname "The Frog Man" and has discovered 89 of the 350 or so frog species known to be in the country. Scientists said the work was crucial for both understanding the planet's biological diversity and raising awareness about the need for conservation. Already, Australia has seen the extinction of one frog species that brooded tadpoles in its stomach, while Central America recently lost its brightly colored golden toad. "Species discoveries and rediscoveries ... can bring excitement and focus to animals like amphibians that, despite being the most threatened vertebrate group, are underrepresented in the media and scientific literature," said herpetologist Robin Moore, co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Amphibian Survival Alliance. "Wonder and inspiration tend to be more powerful motivators than despair."

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