In Search of Lost Frogs: The Quest to Find the World's Rarest Amphibians

Author: Robin Moore
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Firefly Books; lst Edition edition (September 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1770854649
ISBN-13: 9781770854642



This stunningly beautifully book written by amphibian conservationist Dr. Robin Moore, asks the question: "What would happen if you simultaneously dispatched more than 100 researchers in search of dozens of missing frogs across the globe?" This book outlines the findings of "The Search for Lost Frogs" campaign that occurred in 2010.

Frogs and related amphibians have been disappearing across the globe at an alarming rate. This book outlines one of the key "smoking guns" in frog decline, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, Bd for short. This bacterium causes the infectious disease Chytridiomycosis in Frogs and other amphibians, and has caused catastrophic population decline.

Spurred on by this dramatic decline, Moore and colleagues from the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group developed a "Most Wanted" list of the rarest amphibians to encourage scientists to go in search of creatures that had been lost to science. The campaign drew much needed media attention to the plight of frog population decline. Painstakingly, the list grew to 100 species last seen between 15 to 140 years previously. The project next drew up a list of the "Ten Most Wanted Frogs" as poster children for the search. These frogs were selected with the idea that their visual appeal would hook a great deal of sympathy from the general public. Among the top ten list were:

  • "The Golden Toad, (Incilius periglenes), the true poster child for the amphibian extinction crisis, a stunningly beautiful toad that mysteriously vanished in the cloud forests of Costa Rica in the 1980's.
  • "The Gastric-Brooding Frog, (Rheobatrachus), a unique amphibian with bizarre habits with medicinal opportunities for human health.
  • "The Hula Painted Frog, (Latonia nigriventer), was selected for its compelling back story and symbolic value. This frog disappeared from Hula Lake in eastern Israel after it was drained. The species had not been seen in over 55 years.

The book documents the many failures and successes of the "The Search for Lost Frogs" campaign. While many frogs were not re-discovered, there were some notable successes:

  • Moore re-discovered the Variable Harlequin Frog, (Atelopus varius), in Costa Rica in 2003. The Variable Harlequin Frog had not been seen since 1995.
  • Moore and Blair Hedges re-discovered five species of Frogs in Haiti that were last seen in 1991: the La Hotte Glanded Frog (Eleutherodactylus glandulife), the Hispaniola Crowned Frog (Eleutherodactylus corona), Ventriloqual Frog (Eleutherodactylus dolomedes), Mozart's Land Frog (Eleutherodactylus Amadeus), Macaya Breastspot Frog (Eleutherodactylus thorectes) and the Macaya Burrowing Frog (Eleutherodactylus parapelates)
  • The Hula Painted Frog (Latonia nigriventer) was re-discovered in Israel in 2003. It had last been seen in 1955.
  • Significantly, Moore point's out in his book that Frogs are not "Giant Pandas". Frogs simply do not elicit the same emotion from the general public for conservation efforts that Giant Pandas or Polar Bears do. He points out that protecting Frogs and other amphibians will always be a struggle since most conservation organization funds go to protecting only 80 species, most of which are large-bodied animals. Large bodies animals also hold the interest of science as more than 500 times academic papers are published about them than amphibians.

    Moore's book of beautifully photographed Frogs should help a great deal in developing sympathy for conservation efforts! Our key takeaway from this book is that we should advocate for the slippery, slimy and less attractive species of the animal world! Frog populations are declining at an astounding rate while the world obsesses about Polar Bears.

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