Biodiversity News

 

Safe haven for rare frog

The conservation of a Critically Endangered frog species has received a boost after a number of individuals were released in their native home in the Caribbean following a captive-breeding programme. The Mountain Chicken (also known as the Giant Ditch Frog) is considered a local delicacy, hence its unusual name, and a combination of hunting, habitat loss and, more recently, the arrival of the deadly chytrid fungus has resulted in a collapse of the population. The new release site on Montserrat is a large, carefully-controlled enclosure, with breeding pools that are maintained at a temperature too high for the survival of chytrid.

Climate change and birds

Fifty years’ of ‘citizen science’ surveys have found that climate change is affecting around one third of breeding bird species in Britain. Of 68 species studied, the population trends of 24 were linked to changes in temperature and rainfall. Climatic trends appear to have driven notable increases in the populations of thirteen species, including Corn Bunting, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit, but they are also responsible for declines of more than 10% in populations of Cuckoo, Little Owl and Reed Warbler.

New electric eels

Research has revealed the existence of two new species of electric eels in the waters of the Amazon basin. Scientists examined genetic characters, geographical distribution, and physical appearance of specimens from across the Amazon and found that the electric eel, which was thought to be one of a kind, is in fact comprised of three separate species. The ‘original’ electric eel, E. electricus, appears to be restricted to northern highlands, while the two new species, E. voltai and E. varii, occupy the southern highlands and the lowland Amazon basin, respectively.

 

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