Two species of frogs known as Darwin’s frogs (Rhinoderma sp.), unique to Chile in South America, have begun to decline in the wild. These frogs are mouth brooders, where the female lays eggs that develop into tadpoles which the male holds in his vocal sac until they have matured and are ready to be released as little frogs. These frogs are named after Charles Darwin, who first discovered them on his voyage aboard the H.M.S. Beagle.
Now Darwin’s frogs are in trouble, and at least one of the species is probably already extinct in the wild. One of the main culprits behind the disappearance of these frogs is believed to be our old enemy, the amphibian chytrid fungus. How it got into Chile and how far it has spread is not known, but it is troubling that Bd is already causing declines of frog species in South America. To help protect Darwin’s frogs, captive breeding efforts have already been initiated through a program known as the Chilean Amphibian Conservation Center (CACC) that aims to breed and then eventually release captive Darwin’s frogs back into the wild. Other frogs such as the Chilean frog or helmeted water toad (Calyptocephalella gayi), which has already begun experiencing population declines, may be in danger from Bd as well. More research on the spread of Bd is urgently needed in Chile, along with mitigation efforts to reduce loss of amphibian biodiversity. Hopefully we can prevent Chile’s frogs from becoming the next victims of chytridiomycosis.
Frog: 8, Fungus: 14