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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Endangered Species in Southern Africa: Table Mountain Ghost Frog

With the long overdue but significant attention to the rapid decline of the world's frogs, it's about time we mentioned the critically endangered Table Mountain ghost frog. Also known as Roses's Ghost Frog, Heleophryne rosei is ONLY found on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. That's just one mountain in the middle of the city where it lives in about 7-8 km2, in streams and moist, forested gorges.

"This species is adapted to life in fast-flowing mountain streams. Their tadpoles possess sucker-like mouthparts, which they can use to climb up wet, vertical rock surfaces around their streams at night. Adults have been found to stray from streams and have frequently been seen in caves. Numerous threats to this species include the spread of non-native vegetation, frequent fires, heavy ecotourism, and the construction of water storage reservoirs. The virulent fungal disease chytridiomycosis has been found in this species recently and populations are declining fast."
"The Table Mountain ghost frog therefore has very few close relatives and is one of the only surviving members of the earliest lineage that gave rise to the modern frogs and toads. The closest ancestors of this species were the first modern frogs."

Isn't it sad and ironic that "heavy ecotourism" is listed as a threat. For more on endangered species go to EDGE - Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered. For more on endangered frogs in South Africa see Sally Wren's post on the work Werner Conrad is doing.

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