Mike’s Pond to be protected habitat for gopher frog
Posted by Miqe on December 7, 2007
The endangered Mississippi gopher frog has a new 292-acre protected habitat.The parcel – called Mike’s Pond – was presented this week to The Nature Conservancy. The pond is named after its discoverer, biologist Michael Sisson.
Sisson was a Mississippi Museum of Natural Science biologist who was studying Mississippi gopher frogs in Glen’s Pond in DeSoto National Forest. He also surveyed other Southern Mississippi ponds, looking for remnants of frog populations or the possibility of setting up new colonies.
He discovered a small group of frogs in the pond in Jackson County in 2004.
There are about 100 Mississippi gopher frog adults left in Glen’s Pond and Mike’s Ponds, zoologists say.
“It’s the rarest of the rarest. No one knows how long it will take to sustain the population,” said Tom Mann, a zoologist with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science Natural Heritage Program.
Mann said the frog lays eggs in ephemeral ponds, which only fill at certain times of the year. Tadpoles develop in the water, then live as adults in the abandoned holes of forest creatures such as the gopher tortoise.
Mike’s Pond holds water a little longer than Glen’s Pond, Mann said, and will be a good site to rekindle the frog population. Glen’s Pond dries up before tadpoles can grow, and biologists have started rearing future frogs in tanks.
The frogs’ land habitat has to be burned regularly to clear out brush, which will be a challenge with subdivisions nearby, Mann said. More people are moving north, lessening the space that can be safely burned.
The Nature Conservancy owns many parcels of land in Mississippi, and in addition to Mike’s Pond, has another with the potential to house gopher frogs, said Robbie Fisher, the conservancy’s state director.
“The more habitat provided, the better chance we’ll have of preventing this frog from going extinct,” she said.