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Somuncura frog (Somuncuria somuncurensis)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 13056734

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 13056734) - Somuncura frog - Awarded $5,000 on November 08, 2013

The Somuncura plateau constitute a particular ecosystem of Patagonia region (Argentina). This area contain several endemic and endangered species. The Valcheta frog (Pleurodema somuncurensis) is the most endangered of these species. This amphibian is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The status of the area is of major concern due to its great transformation and biological uniqueness. The Somuncura frog is a strictly endemic species with a very small distributional range of less than 20km2. This species only lives at Valcheta stream in the north of the Somuncura plateau. This stream is about 80 km long but Somuncura frog is only known at seven thermal springs (with temperatures up to 22ºC), located at the beginning of the Valcheta stream. Due to its critical status, this frog was declared as EDGE species (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species) ranking on the top 100 EDGE amphibians in the world. Two of the main threats for this species are the presence of exotic fishes that predates on this frog, limiting its distribution; and livestock (cows, sheep and goats) that feeds on the shore vegetation producing the loss of breeding and feeding habitats for amphibians. Other threats are the creation of dams and irrigation channels for domestic use, the contamination by agrochemicals and the capture of individuals for pet trade. Currently, the population of Valcheta frog is declining. Two of the thermal springs where frogs were found in the past were dried off, and at present moment, we cannot find individuals there. Moreover, its small population size could be promoting inbreeding. Although the critical situation of this frog and the Valcheta stream, at this moment do not exist conservation or management plans neither research activities oriented to promote the protection of this species and to alleviate threats on its habitat.

The goal of this project is to promote effective conservation of the Valcheta frog and its habitat in order to make it possible its long lasting viability. We want to make this species a flagship in order to protect the Somuncura plateau. Our objectives are: 1. To obtain high quality information about key population parameters, effect of main threats and trends of the Valcheta frog; 2. To create and disseminate educational material to engage local people and encurage them to protect this species and its habitat; and 3. To identify and perform management actions in order to alleviate the effect of main threats.

Project 13056734 location - Argentina, South America