Background

Since the 1980’s, amphibian declines in some areas of the world have been particularly alarming, such as those at Monteverde in Costa Rica, where many species have rapidly disappeared. These include the Lemur Leaf frog, Agalychnis lemur, a species listed as Critically Endangered.

Until recently, the species was thought to be almost extinct in Costa Rica. However, a small remnant population is still known to exist within an area encompassed by the Costa Rican Amphibian Centre (CRARC).

It is highly probable that this small remnant population may soon be the last for the species in Costa Rica. Recent biogeographic and genetic studies suggest that the Costa Rican populations are quite different from Panamanian populations, and it appears those from Panama may well be a different species. This makes the Costa Rican population even more important from an amphibian conservation point of view.

Where endangered species of amphibians are at risk, immediate conservation action in the form of joint demographic captive management is urged by the IUCN. This is also echoed in the Global Amphibian Conservation Assessment Plan (ACAP). In 2001 captive populations of Costa Rican Lemur leaf frogs were established at Manchester Museum, and more recently at Bristol Zoo, where a dedicated facility for the species and has proved very successful.

As part of this project a specific ‘stud book’ for captive Costa Rican Lemur Frogs will be established. In order to facilitate this individual specimens needed defining and so the development of genetic markers for the species were produced as part of the project. Several of the institutions, including Salford University, Manchester, were involved in this fundamental DNA research, and now that the primers for the species are described it will also allow for the assessment of genetic diversity in the wild population to be made possible.

The studbook is currently being established, and once bred, animals from defined bloodlines will be distributed to other international collections, and in particular those committed to the species’ future conservation, such as Nordens Ark in Sweden. To date, Bristol Zoo has been proactive in establishing preliminary guidelines for the captive maintenance of adult Lemur leaf frogs and husbandry guidelines for raising the frogs and are highly involved in the studbook development.

Below you can find related links to Lemur Leaf Frog information:

Interview regarding the Lemur Leaf Frog Conservation Project

Lemur Frog info at Manchester Museum

Lemur Frog info at Bristol Zoo

Lemur Frogs at Manchester Museum

Endangered Frogs get ‘Love Shack’ at Bristol Zoo

Lemur frog info at ARKive

Agalychnis lemur info at AmphibiaWeb

Amphibian Ark

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