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Archive for the ‘Fieldherping’ Category

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Hundreds of sand lizards released

Posted by Miqe on September 3, 2009

Hundreds of rare sand lizards are being released into the wild at locations in England and Wales from where they had previously disappeared.

They will be reintroduced at five sites in Surrey, Dorset and mid-Wales.

The sand lizards were bred in captivity so they could be released into the wild

The sand lizards were bred in captivity so they could be released into the wild

The sand lizard was once a common sight across heathland, but the gradual destruction of its habitats has led to its extinction in many places.

Some 400 of the creatures would be set free within a fortnight, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation group said.

The first release of about 80 two-inch-long baby lizards, reared in special hatcheries, will take place at a National Trust nature reserve in Surrey on Thursday.

According to the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation group (Arc), the lizard was lost altogether from a number of counties including Kent, Sussex, Cornwall, Cheshire and north and west Wales.

More than 90% of suitable habitat has also vanished from Surrey, Merseyside and Dorset.

Reptiles and amphibians are coming under pressure from an increasing number of factors including habitat loss, disease and a future of climate change
Dr Tom Tew, Natural England

Frogs, toads, newts, lizards and snakes have all been affected by the loss of their habitats, often because of changes to agricultural practice, the planting of forests and building developments.

But Arc, formed by the merger of Froglife and the Herpetological Conservation Trust charities, said the animals and their habitats were now protected by law.

Nick Moulton, of Arc, said: “It’s great to see them going back, now safely protected, where they belong.”

The reintroductions were part of efforts to “turn back the clock on amphibian and reptile declines” in Britain, a statement from Arc added.

‘Reverse the decline’

The young lizards were bred in captivity at locations that include the zoos at Chester and Marwell, and also specially modified back gardens.

The breeders minimised contact with the reptiles to prevent them becoming too tame, which would leave them at risk of being eaten in the wild by their main predator, the smooth snake.

The reintroduction of the sand lizards is part of a 133-point action plan, intended to reverse the decline of the UK’s frogs, toads, lizards and snakes.

The plan includes research, monitoring species and encouraging land-owners to create habitats such as ponds to help wildlife flourish.

Dr Tom Tew, chief scientist at Natural England, the government’s conservation agency, said: “Reptiles and amphibians are coming under pressure from an increasing number of factors including habitat loss, disease and a future of climate change.

“This important reintroduction programme is an example of the action that must be taken to reverse the decline in England’s biodiversity and to conserve the habitats that our unique wildlife relies upon.”

From BBC NEWS.

Posted in European focus, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news., Lacertids, Lizards, Reptiles | Leave a Comment »

It’s a leap, but frogs find home in elephant dung.

Posted by Miqe on August 18, 2009

Study of ‘ecosystem engineers’ sees cheap pachyderm shelters piling up.

One species of frog found in a pile of Asian elephant dung. Photo: Ahimsa Campos-arceiz / livescience.com

They may not be the best-smelling homes, but Asian elephant dung piles provide certain frog species with shelter, one researcher has found.

Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz of the University of Tokyo found the dung-dwelling frogs in Sri Lanka’s Bundala National Park, while searching for signs that Asian elephants acted as ecosystem engineers in their environments.

Ecosystem engineers are “organisms capable of controlling the availability of resources for other organisms by modifying the physical environment,” Campos-Arceiz said. The beaver is probably the most well-known example of an ecosystem engineer, Campos-Arceiz said. “The construction of their dams modifies the landscape, creating a new type of ecosystem.”

Big animals, such as elephants, are particularly good at ecosystem engineering, because they can have such a proportionately large impact on their environment, Campos-Arceiz said.

Previous studies have shown that African savanna elephants (Loxodonta Africana) impacted their ecosystem by creating refuges for tree-dwelling lizards — when the elephants broke off twigs and branches while feeding, they left behind crevices in the trees. The research showed that lizard communities were more diverse in places where elephants also lived.

Campos-Arceiz wondered if Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) might have a similar impact on their ecosystems.

During August 2008, Campos-Arceiz was in Bundala National Park inspecting Asian elephant dung piles looking for seeds (the feces can act as a nutrient source for plants and fungi, which will germinate and grow there). Instead, he found an amphibious surprise: six frogs representing three different species (Microhyla ornata, Microhyla rubra and Spaerotheca sp.) in five dung piles.

“I was looking for seeds in the dung — and was ready for some insects and other invertebrates. But I never thought about a vertebrate like a frog staying inside of the dung,” Campos-Arceiz told LiveScience.

An alternative habitat
Accompanying the frogs in the dung piles were beetles, termites, ants, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and crickets, “suggesting that a dung pile can become a small ecosystem of its own,” Campos-Arceiz wrote in the study, titled “S*** Happens (to be Useful)! Use of Elephant Dung as Habitat by Amphibians,” detailed in the journal Biotropica.

“I don’t really remember how it came up, but it happened as soon as I decided to write a paper. I created a folder in my computer called ‘S*** Happens!’ and this project name made the work funnier for me,” Campos-Arceiz said.

The frogs Campos-Arceiz found live among the leaf litter on the ground. But that litter can be scarce in the dry season (when Campos-Arceiz was visiting), so he suspects the dung may provide an alternative habitat for the frogs.

Campos-Arceiz suspects that Asian elephants may act as ecosystem engineers in their environment in other ways as well.

From msnbc

Posted in Amphibians, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news., Science/Scientific papers | 3 Comments »

Second European Bombina Song Contest

Posted by Miqe on May 11, 2009

Following the success of the 2007 “European Bombina Song Contest”, the LIFE-Bombina project (LIFE 04 NAT/DE/000028) has announced a second edition for 2009.

On the 10th May, live recordings of different populations of B. bombina will be made in ponds in Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Latvia and presented on the project website, where the public will be able to vote for thir favourite ‘songs’ (in a similar fashion to the popular, televised Eurovision Song Contest). Voting will possible either on the website and also on-site.

A sophisticated technical set up had to be developed in order to allow the recording and transfer of sound files from the festival locations.

The 2007 event received widespread media coverage in the participating countries, as well as elsewhere in Europe, and was reported on the main national TV news in Sweden, which won the first round.

More details on the LIFE-Bombina website. Listen to the Participants of the 2007 edition.

From Environment-LIFE

Posted in Amphibians, European focus, Fieldherping, Herpetology | 6 Comments »

Rattlers, Peepers & Snappers.

Posted by Miqe on March 30, 2009

Rattlers, Peepers & Snappers is for anyone interested in the biology, natural history, or the 52 fascinating amphibians & reptiles in New England.

Vince Franke teamed up with Jim Andrews, of the VT Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, to create individual segments on all the species that breed in New England as well as reptile and amphibian field adventures hosted by a variety of New England experts. The DVD was designed and laid out for a variety of audiences and ages. We’ve received great feedback from professionals, teachers, naturalists and their kids!

  • 3 hours of programs
  • Frog calls of every species
  • Quizzes, facts sheets, resource pages and much more

The two educational programs incorporate a series of field trips with local experts from across New England as well as highlighting current research projects with University graduate students from the University of Maine, the University of Massachusetts, Berkshire Community College, and the University of Connecticut. Topics include the identification, natural history, and conservation of all the snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs, and salamanders of New England.

From Peregrine Productions

Posted in Amphibians, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Lizards, Reptiles, Snakes, Venomous herptiles | 1 Comment »

First herptile find for the season!

Posted by Miqe on March 19, 2009

 

I found my first ones of this season yeasterday.

When I go to work, I pass a little place where I have been thinking: “There might be an Adder there”. So, yesterday I walked there, it´s just 750 meters from work, to have a look.. Didn´t think that I was going to find anything, just wanted to check the place out..

After just a few minutes, I saw 2 V. berus basking, immediatley threwed myself on the ground with the camera.. :) Took a few pictures, and walked a little more. Only after 25 meters or so, I found another one.

A good day, in deed!

A couple of the pictures I took..

Basking V. berus, Common adder.

Basking V. berus, Common adder.

 

Basking V. berus, Common adder.

Basking V. berus, Common adder.

 

Link to a thread in my forum, regarding spring-findings.

Posted in European focus, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Reptiles, Snake, Snakes, Venomous herptiles | 8 Comments »

Mating frogs get waterside hotel

Posted by Miqe on March 3, 2009

Mating frogs are vulnerable to predators such as foxes and herons
Mating frogs are vulnerable to predators such as foxes and herons

What is claimed to be Britain’s first “frog hotel” is to be created on the banks of the Water of Leith.

The two-tier structure, made from wood and recycled materials, will be placed alongside a pond in Redhall Walled Garden in Edinburgh.

It is designed to protect mating frogs, which are vulnerable to predators such as foxes and herons.

The project aims to encourage breeding amphibians and highlight the work volunteers do for the environment.

Robert Henderson, Scottish co-ordinator for the CSV Action Earth campaign, said the hotel would be a beehive structure.

“At ground level is what’s called the Compost Cafe”, he said.

“Then there’s a ramp up to a more protected area where frogs can hibernate in the winter.”

From BBC

Posted in Amphibians, European focus, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news. | 3 Comments »

Toad crossings mapped on Google Earth

Posted by Miqe on February 16, 2009

Hundreds of toad crossings across the UK have been mapped on Google Earth in a bid to cut the number killed by motorists.

Froglife, which helps the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, has mapped 700 crossings using satellite technology.

It is hoped the satellite map will help conservationists and volunteers find out more about where amphibians are killed on roads on their migration to breeding ponds in spring.

The new software will help members of the public find out where frogs and toads cross local roads, as well as whether a “crossing” is active.

They will also be able to use it to find out where they can help with volunteer “toad patrols”, as well as updating Froglife’s records and reporting new toad crossings.

Conservationists at Froglife also hope the Froglife Google Earth application will be useful for the planning sector, and will allow highways officials to find out more about amphibian populations around the UK’s roads.

Toad numbers have declined in many areas of England, thought to be due to the effect of road traffic during the breeding season and loss of breeding ponds.

It is also thought the common toad, which was listed as a threatened species in 2007, suffers dangers of high kerbs which steer them towards drains where they are trapped and die.

Jules Howard, from Froglife, said: “Google Earth software is allowing wildlife experts to use new creative ways to communicate important conservation issues to an increasingly techno-savvy public.

“We’re delighted that more people can get involved in the Toads on Roads campaign by using this free software.”

She said last year 36 new toad crossing sites were registered, and 35,183 amphibians were carried across UK roads by volunteer “toad patrollers” in 2008.

From Telegraph.co.uk

Posted in Amphibians, European focus, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news. | 1 Comment »

Green-blooded frog makes first appearance for scientists

Posted by Miqe on December 18, 2008

A new species of frog that has green blood and turquoise bones has been discovered living in a former stronghold of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces.

The Samkos bush frog is one of four previously unknown species discovered as part of a project to rebuild the country’s science base from the devastation left by the dictator’s regime.

JEREMY HOLDEN

Photo by: JEREMY HOLDEN

The unusual colour of the blood and bones is caused by biliverdin, a pigment that would usually be processed in the liver as a waste product but which in the frog is passed back into the bloodstream.

Conservationists believe that the pigment helps to camouflage the amphibian because it shows green through the translucent skin. It is suspected that it also serves to make the frog, Chiromantis samkosensis, taste nasty to predators. Jeremy Holden, a naturalist for the conservation group Fauna & Flora International (FFI), who discovered the bush frog, said: “When I found the frog, I had a thrilling suspicion that we were looking at an entirely new species of amphibian.”

The species is so small and well camouflaged in the jungle habitat that researchers are able to track it down only by listening for its distinctive “rising trill” call. It is thought to breed in temporary pools created by heavy rain.

Smith’s frog, Rana faber, the Aural horned frog, Megophrys auralensis, and the Cardamom bush frog, Philautus cardamonus, are the other three species discovered by researchers from FFI during their surveys of Cambodia in the Cardamom mountains.

From: TIMESONLINE

 

Posted in Amphibians, Fieldherping, Herpetology | 3 Comments »

More Than 1000 New Species Discovered in Rivers, Jungles…and Restaurants of the Greater Mekong in Past Decade, WWF Reports

Posted by Miqe on December 16, 2008

Fish, Plants, Amphibians and Mammals — Including an “Extinct” Rock Rat — Are Under Threat from Dams, Roads and Development

WASHINGTON, Dec 15, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) — A rat thought extinct for 11 million years and a hot-pink, cyanide-producing dragon millipede are among a thousand new species discovered in the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia in the last decade, according to a new report launched by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
First Contact in the Greater Mekong reports that 1068 species were discovered or newly identified by science between 1997 and 2007 – which averages two new species a week. This includes the world’s largest huntsman spider, with a foot-long leg span and the Annamite Striped Rabbit, one of several new mammal species found here. New mammal discoveries are a rarity in modern science.
While most species were discovered in the largely unexplored jungles and wetlands, some were first found in the most surprising places. The Laotian rock rat, for example, thought to be extinct 11 million years ago, was first encountered by scientists in a local food market, while the Siamese Peninsula pit viper was found slithering through the rafters of a restaurant in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand.
“This report cements the Greater Mekong’s reputation as a biological treasure trove — one of the world’s most important storehouses of rare and exotic species,” said Dekila Chungyalpa, Director of the WWF-US Greater Mekong Program. “Scientists keep peeling back the layers and uncovering more and more wildlife wonders.”
The findings, highlighted in this report, include 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, 4 birds, 4 turtles, 2 salamanders and a toad. The region comprises the six countries through which the Mekong River flows including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. It is estimated thousands of new invertebrate species were also discovered during this period, further highlighting the region’s immense biodiversity.
“This region is like what I read about as a child in the stories of Charles Darwin,” said Dr Thomas Ziegler, Curator at the Cologne Zoo. “It is a great feeling being in an unexplored area and to document its biodiversity for the first time… both enigmatic and beautiful,” he said.
The report stresses that economic development and environmental protection must go hand-in-hand to provide for livelihoods and alleviate poverty, but also to ensure the survival of the Greater Mekong’s astonishing array of species and natural habitats.
“This poorly understood biodiversity is facing unprecedented pressure….for scientists, this means that almost every field survey yields new diversity, but documenting it is a race against time,” said Raoul Bain, Biodiversity Specialist from the American Museum of Natural History.
The report’s authors recommend a formal, cross-border agreement between the governments of the Greater Mekong to address the threats to biodiversity in the region.
The WWF network is working throughout the Greater Mekong region to promote this agreement and address the threats to biodiversity from its base in Vientiane, Laos. Stuart Chapman, who heads the WWF network’s Greater Mekong Programme, says that protecting habitat while partnering with governments, businesses and local communities to address threats from development and agriculture is essential. “Who knows what else is out there waiting to be discovered, but what is clear is that there is plenty more where this came from,” he said. “The scientific world is only just realizing what people here have known for centuries.”
Notes to the Editor
– Information related to this press release, including high resolution photographs, audio interviews, species footage, and First Contact in the Greater Mekong report, can be downloaded from http://www.divshare.com/folder/443367-922
– WWF is collaborating with many research institutions in the region to discover new species. One WWF scientist, Dr. Chavalit Vidthayanon, discovered eight new fish species which are included in this report.
– WWF is working with governments and industry of the six Greater Mekong nations to conserve and sustainably manage 232,000 square miles of transboundary forest and freshwater habitats in this unique and rapidly changing land.
– The Greater Mekong countries, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, are increasingly cooperating to accelerate economic development. Economic activity and associated investments in infrastructure development are concentrated along three “economic corridors” that crisscross the region and have the potential to lift the region’s rural populations out of poverty but also to increase existing threats to natural resources. WWF believes that these natural resources are essential to the region’s long-term development and that the Greater Mekong nations can achieve economic development while ensuring the integrity of wildlife and habitats.
– Sixteen of WWF’s Global 200 ecoregions, critical landscapes of international biological importance, are found in the Greater Mekong. These landscapes are home to an estimated 20,000 plant species, 1,200 bird species, 800 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 430 mammal species, including Asian elephants, tigers and one of only two populations of the critically endangered Javan rhino in the world. In addition to rare Irrawaddy dolphins, the Mekong River basin is estimated to house at least 1,300 species of fish, including the Mekong giant catfish, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish. By length, the Mekong is the richest waterway for biodiversity on the planet, fostering more species per unit area than the Amazon. Many of the species occur nowhere else on Earth.
ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND
WWF is the world’s largest conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, stop the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more.
Video/Photos Available
SOURCE: World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Lee Poston, 202-299-6442
lee.poston@wwfus.org

From Marketwatch

Posted in Amphibians, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news., Lizards, Reptiles, Snakes, Venomous herptiles | Leave a Comment »

New species of frog found in Karnataka

Posted by Miqe on November 7, 2008

Kozhikode (PTI): A new species of wrinkled frog found active during night has been recently traced in the hilly ranges of Chikmagalur in Western Ghats, Zoological Survey of India sources here said.

‘Nyctibatrachus dattatreyaensis’ is a 40-mm-sized frog which differs from the other species in having high degree of small corrugations on the body with prominent discontinuous lateral folds, the sources said.

The new found species have golden yellow eyes with black rhomboidal pupil and the upper surface of its body is reddish black to stone black with two yellow lateral bands, they said.

“The dorsal colour of the species camouflages with the ferruginous substratum of its habitat which is essential for its survival from predators,” the sources added.

The finding has been published in the October edition of ‘Zootaxa’ journal of New Zealand.

The discovery assumes significance as it has come in the ‘Year of the Frog’ as declared by the Amphibian Ark – a joint effort of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

As per the current studies, the species is limited to the hilly ranges surrounding the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in India and is not found anywhere else in the world.

The genus ‘Nyctibatrachus’ is endemic to Western Ghats and the species, named after Lord Dattatreya worshipped in Chikmagalur, is one among the 16 nominal species known in the world.

From The Hindu

Posted in Amphibians, Fieldherping, Herpetology, Herps in the news, International articles and news., Science/Scientific papers | 1 Comment »

 
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