Birth of the Gastric Brooding Frog
Photo Mike Tyler
Unfortunately, species are the ultimate bioephemera.
Amphibians in particular have been declining at an alarming rate over the past several decades; some estimates suggest that a third of amphibian species are on the verge of extinction. My latest essay for SEED's website opens with the story of the Gastric Brooding Frog, Rheobatrachus silus, an extremely peculiar species. It was discovered in the 1970s, and already believed extinct just over a decade later. That's barely enough time to describe a species, much less save it.
Save the Frogs, a nonprofit conservation organization, has named April 28 "Save the Frogs Day." The idea is to raise awareness about the growing peril of amphibian species, acquire habitat, fund research, and lobby for protective regulations. You can read the details of their mission here.
Just last week, a dozen endangered chicken frogs were airlifted off the island of Montserrat, its only habitat, to protect them from a fungal disease, and are being kept under biosecure procedures in London. It's scary to think that between global warming, habitat loss, increased UV radiation, fungal and bacterial outbreaks, and chemical contamination, the environment has become so poisonous that animals now need to be isolated from it to survive. Scientists are taking heroic measures to save endangered species, but let's be realistic: they can't save them all.
The disappearing frogs. Mike Tyler. Paper prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee