Rare frog find gives herpetologist hope

Sep 11, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A rare female frog has been seen for the first time in 20 years during an expedition to Central America by scientists from The University of Manchester and Chester Zoo.

The tiny tree frog Isthmohyla rivularis was seen in Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve.

This species was thought to have become extinct two decades ago, but last year Andrew Gray from The University's Manchester Museum found and photographed a male.

But the discovery of the pregnant female and also more males suggests this species is breeding and has been able to survive – while many other species have been killed by a deadly fungal skin disease.

Speaking to BBC Online, which is accompanying the party in Costa Rica, Andrew Gray from Manchester Museum at the University of Manchester, said: "This has been the highlight of the whole of my career.

"Now that we know that both sexes exist in the wild, we should intensify efforts to understand their ecology and further their conservation."

The team trekked deep into the forest to a spot close to where the male Isthmohyla rivularis was spotted last year. They had few clues about where the frogs might be and the search could only take place at night.

After discovering another male from its soft insect-like call, Luis Obando, head of park maintenance at Monteverde's Tropical Science Centre, found the tiny female, which was sitting on a leaf.

Mr Gray told the BBC: "It is hard to describe just how unlikely it was to have discovered a female of this particular species.

"The only time you ever come across a female is by chance - and it is only once in a blue moon that they come down to lay their eggs. You really have to be in the right place at the right time.

"You could come out here every night for a year and not see a thing. I really think that this time we have had luck on our side."

The 2.5cm-long female was released after the discovery – but only after a swab was taken from its skin to test whether it is carrying the deadly chytrid fungus.

In recent days, physicist Dr Mark Dickinson from The Photon Science Institute at The University has been able to use a small, portable pen-like device called a spectrometer to examine the skin of several tree frogs.

This non-invasive technique allows them to see how much light the frog is reflecting and understand more about the properties of their skin.

The researchers believe that the ability to sit out in the sun may allow the frogs' skin to heat up just enough to kill off the fungus - preventing the disease from taking its grip.

However, there are concerns that increased cloud cover in their natural habitat as a result of global warming may limit their opportunities for sunbathing.

A team from The University of Manchester and Chester Zoo has been working out in Costa Rica over the last two weeks.

Provided by University of Manchester

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jscroft
1 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2008
Nice! So... where's the press release from the environmental lobby, apologizing to all of us for obstructionism over "endangered" species that turned out to be a colossal waste of everybody's time and money?
Bazz
1 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2008
You got me stumped,i toally fail to understand what youre saying.

You mean to be silly by suggesting a false assumption?
jscroft
not rated yet Sep 19, 2008
I'm just blowing off steam, Bazz. The media has a tendency to make a great deal of noise whenever some agenda-driven bloviator issues a negative press-release: the polar bears are in trouble, this frog is extinct, that odd rodent is the last of its kind, poor thing.

Trouble is, most of those press releases are factually incorrect. But when the frog shows up again, cheerfully munching on a mosquito, there's no fanfare at all... and the NEXT time the same bloviator issues the same press release about some other "endangered" amphibian, the media rushes it into publication with even more enthusiasm than before.

In the real world, performance matters. That's all I'm saying. It's why nobody but dedicated Leftists take hacks like Paul Erlich seriously... he's famous for making dire predictions, when he SHOULD be famous for making laughably WRONG predictions.

I know, that's a lot of baggage to hang on a little frog. Last thing I want to do is drive him back into extinction.
Bazz
not rated yet Sep 19, 2008
News is rarely factual correct, so are our personal beliefs.Generalisations dont help to getting the facts either.
jscroft
not rated yet Sep 19, 2008
Well...

1. News SHOULD be factually correct. Isn't that the whole point?

2. As I mentioned in another thread, the nice thing about science is that it is independent of belief, personal or otherwise. A well-constructed hypothesis can usually be TESTED against the physical Universe.

3. Generalization is a CONSEQUENCE of facts, coupled with intuition and induction. To the extent that a generalization survives reality testing, it is valid. If this were not the case, science would be impossible, and we would not be having this conversation.

I WAS blowing off steam. Now I'm defending an easy generalization that very tidily accounts for a whole raft of easily observable facts. The generalization: that the media's consistent skew in reporting scientific matters produces impressions that support THEIR political agendas, rather than the facts on the ground.

I wouldn't mind, except that they get offended whenever one of us points out their perfectly evident bias. I STILL wouldn't mind, except that their response so often takes the form of noxious legislation and electoral fraud.
Bazz
not rated yet Sep 19, 2008
Generalisation is usually a simplification of the truth and often used to make facts fit with the desired truth,therefore often factually incorrect.

I hope youre not pretending to be unbiased, i never met someone worthy of claiming that,and i dont exclude myself

jscroft
not rated yet Sep 21, 2008
Come on, Bazz.

Newton generalized thousands of years' worth of FACTS (i.e. astronomical observations) into a single differential equation that accurately accounted for virtually all astronomical motion. Generalization is FUNDAMENTAL to science: it's how we move from observation to hypothesis to theory to law.

I understand what you're saying. But, see, YOU are generalizing... about generalization! And, in science, NO generalization is valid until it survives that first all-important reality test. And the next one...

I like to think I'm biased in favor of truth. Naturally, so does everybody else... but I contend that truth is what you get when your generalizations consistently PASS the reality test. And--at least with respect to the media's role in the climate change debate--mine do.
Bazz
not rated yet Sep 22, 2008
Ok youre right generalisation is fundamental to science and our own perception too.

Its used to make the world around us understandable for our brains.

Generalisations become real when we find no objections to them.For others to find them real they have to fit their model of reality.

Your generalisation of the press can be easily turned aroud and be used to argue that the mainstream press is biased against the enviroment.

Such generalisations are just too big and vague and unprovable to be convincing.

Its used too often as a theory of everything.

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