One small frog…

one small frog







One small frog can offer a great deal of hope. This adult male Atelopus varius is belongs to a genus that is critically endangered… not a single species, mind you, the entire genus…  and it is therefore one of the rarest creatures on earth. In other words, it is a virtual ghost. To see healthy individuals suggests that there is probably a small population out there… and if there is a small population holding on, that means there is hope for the whole species.

Jungle lab

jungle labBelieve it or not, this was the more luxurious spot to work.  We normally collect our data while sitting in the streams. On this occasion, we took the time to get “cozy” in the camp site. With our boots off, however, our semi-dry feet provided a feast for the millions of mosquitoes.

Finding frogs

C fitzDay 1-2: Overall, we were feeling tired and a bit discouraged.  It was raining quite a bit and the camp site grew progressively more muddy.  However, we did find several glass frogs and this handsome Pristimantis cruentus … but no golden frogs.

Sharpen the machetes, muddy the boots

the journey_ muddy boots

I think the post title says it all.  We slogged through a lot of mud and jungle vines to reach out destination. Fortunately, the pristine streams that we found along the way were worth the hours of effort.

Prepping the packs

packing upMission: Cerro Negro.  Between 2008-2010, Dr. Andreas Hertz found 4 Atelopus individuals, males and females, in this area near Santa Fe.  So we have high hopes that we will be equally successful in finding a few golden frogs

Before approaching this part of the Cordillera Central, however, we needed to round up a LOT of gear, sort it and load it up in our backpacks.

Leaving El Valle

Rio MariaOn a clear day you can see both oceans.  For today, we are looking west of El Valle.  Chytridiomycosis caused earlier die-offs in the western provinces.  What amphibians might be left out there?

Lovely CP







I know that the genus name has changed, but to me, this will always be “CP” (now: Espadarana proseblepon). Note the beautiful blue “armpit hooks”.

We predicted that this species might be less susceptible to chytridiomycosis.  Fortunately, we are finding plenty CPs in areas that declined. We hear their characteristic call (“dik-dik-dik”) during our night transects.

More dead frogs










More sad news from Sora. We’ve found additional dying frogs. We were lucky to find this one before it was washed away.


A natural

We’re finding more glass frogs than expected. This glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) was a natural in front of the camera.

Hiking into dry sites

We know that the amphibian populations in warmer, drier sites have suffered less mortality from chytridiomycosis. We hoped that we might find more golden frogs in some of the streams on the Pacific side of the El Valle crater.  The good news –  some frogs are still hopping around. The bad news – they are not Atelopus.