Collaborative conservation plan eyed for Wyoming toad

A Wyoming toad. Photo via USFWS.

A Wyoming toad. Photo via USFWS.

Voluntary conservation easements would protect habitat and traditional land use

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal biologists are seeking input on a draft plan to protect habitat for the endangered Wyoming toad. The species was common in the Laramie plains area through the 1970s, when populations crashed, leading to an endangered species listing in 1984.


The proposed conservation would enable the USFWS to buy conservation easements and limited fee-title lands from willing sellers in the Southern Laramie River area whose lands provide important habitat for the endangered Wyoming toad and a variety of other fish and wildlife resources. Continue reading

Rare California frogs finally get recovery plan


Can a recovery plan save rare yellow-legged frogs in California? Photo courtesy Adam Backlin, USGS.

 Critical habitat designation and active restoration efforts could bolster populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — After 12 years on the endangered species list, a dwindling population of California frogs will finally get some much-needed attention from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Under a settlement agreement reached last week, the agency will develop a recovery plan for Southern California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs by December 2018

“I’m so glad these severely endangered frogs will finally get a recovery plan,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center of Biological Diversity attorney and biologists dedicated to protecting rare amphibians and reptiles. “Recovery plans really need to be developed soon after species are protected, because they give us a roadmap of exactly what we need to do to ensure those species won’t go extinct.”

There are only nine known populations of the frogs, all living in isolated headwaters streams where they rely on snowmelt and freshwater springs for habitat. Most of the frogs were wiped out by the introduction of non-native trout, and habitat degradation is another factor in their decline. Continue reading

New chytrid fungus test could help amphibian conservation


A boreal toad found in the Cucumber Gulch wetlands in Breckenridge, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

New sampling method enables early detection of deadly fungus in the environment, before it infects amphibians

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new way to test for the presence of the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus may help conservation efforts for species like the Rocky Mountain’s boreal toads, still under consideration for the endangered species list.

Instead of testing amphibians directly for the fungus, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said they’ve learned how to test for chytrid fungus in the water the animals live in. The new sampling technique can help assess the risk of exposure, potentially helping plan recovery efforts. Continue reading

Can amphibians bounce back from the brink?


A live boreal toad from waters known to harbor the deadly chytrid fungus. bberwyn photo.

Research suggests some species can develop or acquire an immunity to deadly fungal pathogens

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Florida-based researchers say they may have some answers for the puzzling wave of amphibian deaths that’s been wiping out populations of some species. At least some frogs and snakes may be able to develop immunity to the deadly chytrid fungus that’s been implicated in the die-off, University of South Florida biologists said this week.

Their findings could be good news in general for biodiversity, as emerging fungal pathogens are seen as posing the greatest threat of any parastic pathogens, contributing to declines of  amphibians, bats, corals, bees and snakes. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Natural micropredators key to controlling frog-killing chytrid pathogen


Colorado’s boreal toads have been devastated by the chytrid pathogen, as well as habitat loss and water quality degradation. bberwyn photo.

Findings may help protect amphibians from deadly fungus

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Biologists continue to unravel the mysteries of the amphibian-killing chytrid pathogen, raising hopes that there may be a way to slow or stop the disease, which has wiped out populations of frogs worldwide.

Researchers have long wondered why the pathogen sometimes kills all the amphibians in one habitat, while apparently leaving other nearby populations unharmed. After studying mountain ponds in the Pyrenees, the scientists concluded that, in some regions, naturally occurring predators may control the pathogen.

This natural behavior will reduce the infection pressure on potential amphibian hosts and a goes a long way towards explaining the distribution of chytridiomycosis, at least in temporal climatic regions. Continue reading

10-year study shows low level of frog deformities


A boreal toad in Breckenridge, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Baseline data will help researchers zero in on hotspots

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Frogs and toads have been hit hard by pesticides and other pollutants, as well as the deadly chytrid fungus, but there is a little bit of good news. A 10-year study shows that the rate of deformed frogs may be lower than previously believed.

The findings suggest that the rate of abnormalities such as shortened or missing legs was less than 2 percent overall. But much higher rates were found in local “hotspots,” suggesting that where these problems occur they have local causes. The results were published Nov. 18 in the journal PLOS ONE. Continue reading

Amphibian-killing fungus disables immune response


One of the last few boreal toads found at Cucumber Gulch in Breckenridge tested negative for the chytrid fungus.

New research may help inform conservation measures

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Biologists say they’re one step closer to understanding how, exactly, the chytrid fungus kills amphibians. The fungus, which has been linked with a global amphibian die-off, apparently releases a toxin that disables the amphibian immune response, Vanderbilt University investigators reported Oct. 18 in the journal Science.

Biologists have long wondered why amphibian immune systems aren’t able to clear the fungus, according to Dr.Louise Rollins-Smith, Ph.D., an associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt. Continue reading


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