Costa Rica Project

Project lead: Dr Tim Bray

Why conserve frogs in Costa Rica? 

Lemur leaf frogs are one of a number of types of leaf frogs, known for their cryptic colouration and adherence to leaves in the forest canopy. Tropical forest amphibians represent a significant contribution to biodiversity with a vast range of colours, forms, and reproductive strategies. Frogs are often considered as indicators of ecosystem health due to their sensitivity to changes in their surroundings and micro-climate.

Why are these frogs Critically Endangered?

Amphibians remain among the most threatened groups of animals globally, with around a third in danger of extinction. Lemur leaf frogs are among those most in danger of extinction. The numbers of this unique amphibian have dramatically declined across large portions of its range in Costa Rica. Reasons for the decline of this species are varied; a fungal pathogen causes the chytridomycosis infection that affects amphibian species globally, as well as the problems associated with habitat loss and degradation. What can be problematic is that causes of population decline are often interactive, so the consequences of stress and population fragmentation associated with habitat deterioration or introduction of invasive species can amplify the intensity of disease incidence.

How are we helping to protect lemur leaf frogs?

Alongside a number of partner organisations we are attempting a combined approach to leaf frog conservation. The successful breeding of wild-caught individuals is the ex-situ portion of our involvement. We are organising with our collaborators to continue the implementation of the in-situ conservation from habitat management to surveying for presence of lemur frogs throughout their historic range. Previous management has provided additional breeding pools to catch the hatching juveniles as they fall from the foliage, and surveys have identified a host of other rare species.

What is our strategy?

Building our baseline information for this species is the first stage of the future of this project, through additional habitat and population surveys. We will continue to identify and map where the leaf frogs exist, what threatens them, and the most appropriate actions to take for conserving them. We will then be able to better inform conservation decisions concerning protecting important habitat, connecting populations, and informing translocations and reintroductions.




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