January 12, 2011

Six Long-Lost Frog Species Rediscovered In Haiti

Conservationists working in Haiti have discovered six species of frogs that had previously not been seen for nearly 20 years, the organization Conservation International (CI) reported Wednesday.

The announcement comes exactly one year to the day that an earthquake ravaged the Caribbean nation, killing an estimated 230,000 people and leaving 1.2 million others homeless.

"Amidst the suffering that continues to plague Haiti, the presence and discovery of these frog species is a sign, however small, of hope," CI's Molly Bergen wrote in an article posted to the group's official website Wednesday.

"These species, bellwethers of ecosystem health, offer encouragement that while much of Haiti's human landscape still lies in ruins, at least some of its natural landscape is in better health--and the valuable services it offers can be a key to not only the nation's recovery, but also to a more prosperous future," she added.

The six frog species discovered on the expedition, which began back in October and led by CI Amphibian Conservation Officer Dr. Robin Moore, were the Hispaniolan Ventriloquial Frog (Eleutherodactylus dolomedes), Mozart's Frog (E. amadeus), the La Hotte Glanded Frog, (E. glandulifer), the Macaya Breast-spot frog (E. thorectes), the Hispaniolan Crowned Frog (E. corona), and the Macaya Burrowing Frog (E. parapelates). All of them are considered critically endangered.

According to Bergen's report of the discovery, the Hispaniolan Ventriloquial Frog earned its name because it appears to be throwing its voice when it lets off its unusual, chirp-like call. Mozart's Frog earned its name because of its musical call, while the La Hotte Glanded Frog has "striking blue sapphire eyes" that are "a highly unusual trait" for amphibians.

The tiny Macaya Breast-spot frog is no bigger than a grape, while E. corona was named because it appears to be wearing a crown on its head and E. parapelates had reportedly never been discovered in this region before, having previously only been observed at "two localities on the Massif de la Hotte." All six species of frog considered critically endangered.

Moore, who called the discoveries "incredible," said that the CI team initially went looking for a species known as La Selle Grass frog (E. glanduliferoides), which has gone unseen for the last quarter of a century, when they found "a treasure trove of others. That, to me, represents a welcome dose of resilience and hope for the people and wildlife of Haiti."


Image Caption: La Hotte Glanded Frog, Eleutherodactylus glandulifer, a critically endangered species on the Massif de la Hotte, Haiti. Last seen 1991. © Robin Moore/iLCP


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