Frogs under the spotlight to prevent extinction

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Amphibians, such as frogs, are globally threatened. Over the past four decades, many tropical species have begun to disappear from intact natural habitats. In the 1980s alone, for example, 40 per cent of Costa Rica’s amphibians disappeared. Other Latin American countries are experiencing similar declines. Scientists still struggle to understand exactly why this is happening, referring to it as ‘enigmatic decline’.
Amphibians are crucial for ecosystems in Latin America, where almost half of all known amphibian species live. And as well as being part of the region’s food chains, they are important for its tourism industry and cultural identity. But, today, 63 per cent of amphibian species are in rapid decline.

The sound of male frogs croaking encourages captive frogs to mate. Researchers play it on a loop for hours in the rain chamber where fertile frogs are kept.

Frogs in particular are an important indicator of ecosystem health as they are highly sensitive to pollution and prone to new diseases caused by habitat change. Researchers at the Horniman Museum in the United Kingdom study the reproduction of four species of Central American tropical frog: the gliding tree frog, the Lemur leaf frog, the black-eyed tree frog and the red-eyed tree frog. The frogs in this photo gallery belong to the last two species.
The researchers use various techniques to encourage frogs to breed. By studying the animals outside their natural environment, researchers can figure out the ideal conditions for their frogs to thrive. Knowing this could help protect them from extinction. And should these efforts fail, the frogs could be reintroduced from captive stocks once the causes of their loss have been identified and removed.