Harlequin frog (Atelopus glyphus)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 1025939
Panama Amphibian Rescues The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project was created in 2009 as a partnership between Africam Safari Park (Mexico), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado), Defenders of Wildlife (Washington DC), Houston Zoo (Texas), Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park (Washington DC), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), Summit Municipal Park (Panama) and Zoo New England (Massachusetts) www.amphibianrescue.org . It was formed as a multi-institutional response to the wave of amphibian extinctions sweeping through central America due to the deadly amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) that causes the disease chytridiomycosis. The purpose of this project is to develop an appropriate, collaborative, country-wide response to this threat. Bd continues to spread through the mountainous regions of Central America. Without immediate conservation interventions, experts predict that multiple endemic amphibian species in eastern Panama will go extinct. To date, more than 30 species of Harlequin (Atelopus) frogs already are believed to be extinct due to Bd. One of the projects identified as a priority by our consortium is to rescue and establish an assurance population of one of two highly-endangered frog species in Eastern Panama, a stronghold for Atelopus glyphus and Atelopus certus. This project has two objectives: 1) Establish an ‘Amphibian Rescue Pod’. We propose to modify a donated shipping container by outfitting with tanks, lights and a climate-control system to create an ‘amphibian rescue pod’ to be placed at the Summit Municipal Park, one of our primary partners in Panama. This biosecure space will be used to maintain an ex situ assurance colony for a highly endangered Atelopus species from Eastern Panama. The pod will be developed by a multidisciplinary team of expert volunteers from our partner organizations who will train local staff in amphibian husbandry and veterinary care as well as record-keeping and genetic management. The operation of this facility will produce new biological knowledge applicable to improved ex situ care of rare amphibians; and 2) Complete a rescue expedition to collect founders to create the security population. Specifically, an expedition would be conducted in the Darien Region, a remote, poorly explored area in Eastern Panama near the Columbian border. Here we will survey the density and health status of previously unstudied native amphibian assemblages while collecting a founding population of the target species Atelopus glyphus or Atelopus certus. This survey and collection are critical given that it is believed that this region has not yet been affected by the Bd pathogen. A significant by-product of this expedition will be the first-ever information on presence and status of amphibians in this heretofore unexplored region.
Project 1025939 location - Panama, North America