Habitat Restoration of Centrolenidae at Itapoa Tropical Rainforest Reserve

Ecuador

Ecuador is one of the most important countries of the world for research and conservation of amphibians because of its exceptional diversity and high levels of endemism (527 species of amphibians described, plus about 200–250 species awaiting descriptions, 207 endemic species, 41% of endemism). Diversity of amphibians in Ecuador represents about 7.4% of the world’s amphibian diversity. Despite this high diversity, amphibians have been affected by numerous threats, which have produced the possible extinction of at least 15 species and drastic declines of no less than 155 species. However, this figure may be underestimated because for many species (153) the data are insufficient.

One of the extreme examples of amphibian declines is thought to be due to chytrid fungus, climate change, and trout. Also, predictions suggest that, in Ecuador, almost half of the habitats suitable for glassfrog species have been deforested (Cisneros-Heredia, 2008). For example, in Ecuador, at Yanayacu Biological Station, only three individuals of Centrolene buckleyi were found after an intensive 3-year inventory effort by our colleague Juan Manuel Guayasamin, suggesting that this species is quite rare at this locality (Guayasamin et al., 2006). Elsewhere in Ecuador (e.g. Pilaló, Cashca Totoras, Zamorahaico) other species were formerly abundant; however, it is now nearly absent or absent from these localities (Bustamante et al., 2005; J.M. Guayasamin, pers. comm. 2008). Further investigation indicates the presence of Bd specially affects this species as it inhabits higher altitudes.

Our project aims to save from extinction several extant species of glass frog Centrolenidae in Ecuador, inhabiting different areas of the Itapoa Tropical Rainforest Reserve, through in situ breeding and management. The species included are: Espadarana prosoblepon, Sachatamia albomaculata, Sachatamia ilex, Cochranella mache, Teratohyla spinosa, as well as some possible other species currently not described yet to science.

The Cotopaxi Volcano continues to release ash, water vapor and sulphur. Photo © Silvia Fernandez

The extant populations of these species are facing deforestation through all of their distribution. Given the threats these species face, in situ management is an urgently needed proactive solution to save the extant populations from extinction. Previous efforts to monitor breeding of Centronelidae have been relatively minor and unsuccessful. Thus, our objectives and activities are directed to finding additional founder breeding locations, adequately equipping the in situ locations (fauna monitoring, planting, if necessary, water quality testing in streams), and continually document all concepts utilized and successes obtained. With this project we will expect to see an increase in reproduction, monitor that reproduction, monitor declines and disappearances, if any, and record data that will help us better understand the overall breeding behaviors of these species.

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Fast Facts

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Location
Ecuador

Project Description
We intend to promote the conservation of several glassfrog species inhabiting the reserve through habitat and breeding monitoring.

Raul Nieto working at Itapoa Tropical Rainforest Reserve. Photo: Itapoa staff.

Raul Nieto working at Itapoa Tropical Rainforest Reserve. Photo: Itapoa staff.

Target Species
Espadarana prosoblepon, Sachatamia albomaculata, Sachatamia ilex, Cochranella mache, Teratohyla spinosa, as well as some possible other species currently not described yet to science.

Team Members
Nick Pezzote and Raul Nieto

Funding Needs

Much of the land on the reserve is being deforested, destroyed by cattle raising and even burned to the ground. Approximately $3,000USD is still needed to purchase more land on the reserve and complete this project.

If you would like to further support this project or invest in the Amphibian Survival Alliance’s Seed Grant program please contact  Candace M. Hansen-Hendrikx, Director of Communications and Partnerships.

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