Surveying amphibian skin bacteria in PanamáLas bacterianas de la piel en anfibios de Panamá

Amphibians are dying all over the world due to chytridiomycosis. This disease, caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is responsible for dramatic amphibian declines and extinctions in the Neotropics, including Panamanian tropical forests.

We are a research team that is part of an NSF project investigating microbial diversity on frog skin in Panama. This team includes three principal investigators (Lisa Belden, Reid Harris and Kevin Minbiole), three postdoctoral fellows (Eria Rebollar, Myra Hughey and Tom Umile) and several graduate and undergraduate students from James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Villanova University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. We are interested in understanding how microbial communities from amphibian skin might contribute to the survival of amphibian species that have persisted in the wild despite the presence of Bd. Since 2012, we have collected samples from multiple sites in lowland tropical forests to describe the factors that shape skin microbial communities in tropical amphibians, including the presence of the pathogen Bd.

The author in Panama, 2013

The author in Panama, 2013

We  recently published a study on the skin microbiota of five species of tropical amphibians from one of the few sites in Panamá where amphibians have not been infected with Bd, called Serranía del Sapo, in the Darién Province. In the summer of 2012, Myra Hughey, Roberto Ibáñez and Daniel Medina collected skin swab samples from this lowland site of highly susceptible and less-susceptible species, including two highly threatened species: Atelopus certus and Strabomantis bufoniformis. When we analyzed the bacterial species present on the skin of these five amphibian species we found that amphibians had a unique microbiota on the skin that was very distinct from the bacterial communities in the environment. These symbiotic bacteria were not only different from the environment, but were also different among the amphibian species. Interestingly we found that the three less Bd-susceptible species that we studied (Craugastor fitzingeri, Espadarana prosoblepon and Colosthetus panamansis) had a common set of bacteria that was not present on the two highly susceptible species (A. certus and S. bufoniformis).

Atelopus certus, thought to be a species susceptible to Bd. Photo (c) Joel Sartore

Atelopus certus, thought to be a species susceptible to Bd. Photo (c) Joel Sartore

We think that the bacteria present in the less-susceptible species might be playing a defensive role against pathogens like Bd. If these bacteria indeed have antifungal properties, what are the factors determining the presence of these antifungal bacteria on the skin of less susceptible species? To pursue this idea, we compared the microbial communities of C. fitzingeri in the Darién region with skin communities from regions where the frogs were infected with Bd, in Colón and Panamá provinces (Mamoní, Soberanía and Gamboa). We found that the skin bacterial communities in the infected regions had an increased proportion of bacterial species like Pseudomonas and members of the Actinomycetes. Interestingly, these bacteria are known for their antifungal activities in other amphibians, and therefore it is possible that they might be playing an important role in Bd resistance. Since other factors could be influencing these communities, we are currently analyzing experimental data to determine if Bd infection is driving these changes in the skin microbiota.

How can we use the information we have gathered to protect amphibians that do not have high proportions of Pseudomonas and Actinomycetes on their skins? Can we culture these bacteria and study their antifungal properties? We are currently analyzing cultured microbes from less susceptible species to determine if they have anti-Bd properties in vitro. If these microbes are indeed effective against Bd, can we use them as skin probiotics for the highly susceptible species? Probiotics are a very promising avenue towards conservation of susceptible amphibians since the skin microbiota has already been manipulated in some species to protect them from Bd. However a lot of additional studies still need to be done to implement this approach successfully.

Publications

Belden LK, Hughey MC, Rebollar EA, Umile TP, Loftus SC, Burzynski EA, Minbiole KPC, House LL, Jensen RV, Becker MH, Walke JB, Medina D, Ibáñez R and Harris RN (2015) Panamanian frog species host unique skin bacterial communities. Front. Microbiol. 6:1171. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01171

Rebollar EA, Hughey MZ, Medina D, Harris RN,  Ibáñez R and Belden LK (2015) Skin bacterial diversity of Panamanian frogs is associated with host susceptibility and presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. ISME Journal. doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.234

by Eria RebollarBacterias de la piel están asociadas a la susceptibilidad a Bd en anfibios tropicales: lecciones de las comunidades bacterianas de la piel en anfibios del Darién, Panamá.

Los anfibios están muriendo en todo el mundo a causa de la quitridiomicosis. Esta enfermedad, causada por Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), es responsable de dramáticos colapsos poblacionales y extinciones en el Neotrópico, incluyendo los bosques tropicales de Panamá.

The author in Panama, 2013

The author in Panama, 2013

Somos un grupo de investigación financiado por la NSF dedicado a investigar la diversidad microbiana en la piel de anfibios en Panamá. Este equipo está constituido por tres investigadores principales (Lisa Belden, Reid Harris y Kevin Minbiole), tres investigadores postdoctorales (Eria Rebollar, Myra Hughey y Tom Umile) así como varios estudiantes de posgrado y licenciatura  de James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Villanova University y el Smitshonian Tropical Research Institute. Estamos interesados en entender cómo la diversidad microbiana de la piel en anfibios contribuye a la sobrevivencia de especies que siguen presentes en la naturaleza a pesar de la presencia de Bd. Desde el año 2012 hemos colectado muestras de múltiples bosques tropicales de tierras bajas con el fin de entender los factores que influyen en las comunidades microbianas cutáneas en anfibios tropicales, incluyendo sitios en donde se encuentra el hongo patógeno Bd.

Recientemente hemos publicado un estudio de la microbiota cutánea de cinco especies de anfibios tropicales provenientes de uno de los pocos sitios en Panamá que no están infectados por Bd llamado Serranía del Sapo en la Provincia del Darién. En este sitio durante el verano del 2012, Myra Hughey, Roberto Ibáñez y Daniel Medina colectaron muestras de especies muy susceptibles y menos susceptibles a Bd incluyendo dos de las especies más amenazadas: Atelopus certus y Strabomantis bufoniformis. Cuando analizamos las especies bacterianas de la piel de estas cinco especies descubrimos que los anfibios poseen una microbiota única que es muy distinta a las comunidades bacterianas ambientales. Estas bacterias simbiontes no sólo son diferentes a las bacterias ambientales, sino que también son distintas entre las especies de anfibios. Interesantemente, encontramos que las especies menos susceptibles a Bd (Craugastor fitzingeri, Espadarana prosoblepon y Colosthetus panamansis) comparten un conjunto de especies bacterianas que no están presentes en las especies altamente susceptibles (A. certus y S. bufoniformis).

Atelopus certus, thought to be a species susceptible to Bd. Photo (c) Joel Sartore

Atelopus certus, thought to be a species susceptible to Bd. Photo (c) Joel Sartore

Es posible que las bacterias presentes en las especies menos susceptibles tengan un papel importante contra la presencia de patógenos como Bd. Si estas bacterias tienen capacidades anti-fúngicas ¿Cuáles son los factores que determinan la presencia de estas bacterias benéficas en las especies menos susceptibles? Para abordar esta pregunta, comparamos las comunidades microbianas de C. fitzingeri en la región del Darién con las comunidades microbianas de regiones infectadas por el hongo en la provincia de Colón y Panamá (Mamoní, Soberanía y Gamboa). Encontramos que las comunidades bacterianas cutáneas en las regiones infectas estaban enriquecidas en bacterias del genero Pseudomonas y miembros de las bacterias Actinomicetos. Es interesante que estos grupos bacterianos son conocidos por sus capacidades anti-fúngicas en otros anfibios, y por lo tanto, es posible que jueguen un papel protector en contras del hongo Bd. Debido a que otros factores pueden estar afectando la diversidad de las comunidades microbianas, estamos actualmente analizando datos experimentales para determinar si la infección por Bd es el responsable de los cambios en estas comunidades bacterianas.

¿Cómo podemos utilizar toda la información que hemos recabado para proteger a los anfibios que no tienen estas bacterias benéficas? Actualmente estamos analizando cultivos bacterianos obtenidos de especies menos susceptibles para determinar experimentalmente sus propiedades anti-fúngicas. Si estas bacterias efectivamente inhiben el crecimiento de Bd, entonces ¿podríamos utilizarlas como probióticos en las especies altamente susceptibles?. Los probióticos son una estrategia muy prometedora para la conservación de especies de anfibios susceptibles ya que la manipulación de la microbiota cutánea se ha logrado en otras especies de anfibios para protegerlos contra Bd. Sin embargo se requieren todavía muchos estudios para poder implementar esta estrategia exitosamente.

Belden LK, Hughey MC, Rebollar EA, Umile TP, Loftus SC, Burzynski EA, Minbiole KPC, House LL, Jensen RV, Becker MH, Walke JB, Medina D, Ibáñez R and Harris RN (2015) Panamanian frog species host unique skin bacterial communities. Front. Microbiol. 6:1171. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01171

Rebollar EA, Hughey MZ, Medina D, Harris RN,  Ibáñez R and Belden LK (2015) Skin bacterial diversity of Panamanian frogs is associated with host susceptibility and presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. ISME Journal. doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.234

Por Eria Rebollar

Fifth Annual Golden Frog Day Calendar of Activities (2015)Próximamente: V FESTIVAL de la RANA DORADA (2015)

Golden frog festival calendar of events

FRIDAY 14 August
GAMBOA AMPHIBIAN RESCUE CENTER OPEN HOUSE
Corner of Morrow and Jadwin, Gamboa.
Time: 1-4pm
Get a behind the scenes tour of the Gamboa Amphibian Rescue Center

SATURDAY 15 August
Golden EL VALLE DE ANTON, PASEO EL VALLE
Times: Saturday: 11:00am-3:00pm
Educational activities refreshments and games hosted by the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center and the Golden Frog Mascott.

SUNDAY 16 August
PUNTA CULEBRA NATURE CENTER, AMADOR
#RANATICOS day
Time: 11 am – 4pm
Meet the golden frog mascott, tour an exhibition of Panama’s most beautiful frogs, games activities and refreshments.

WEDNESSDAY AUG 19
NIGHT FROGS at the BIOMUSEO, AMADOR
Time: 7-10PM
Frog raffle, photo booth, exhibition and talk with frog experts.

SATURDAY AUGUST 22
MULTIPLAZA PACIFIC MALL, PANAMA CITY
Time: 11AM- 5PM
Face painting, frog jumping, photobooth and acrobatics by La Tribu.

SUNDAY AUGUST 30
GOLDEN FROG RUN, EL VALLE DE ANTON
Time: 7AM, starting at Hotel Campestre
Register for a race for golden frogs hosted by Caminando Panama.

Presented by: Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Fundacion Smithsonian, El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, La Rana Dorada Pub, SENACYT, USAID, National Science Foundation, APRADAP, Uber, Biomuseo, Oferta simple, Live animals, Stratego , Multiplaza Pacifico, North Face, Caminando Panama.

Golden frog festival calendar of events

La Dorada 5/10/15K trail run 2015LA DORADA 2015

dorada_race

To celebrate the Golden Frog Festival and the conservation of amphibians in Panama you are invited to join us for ‘la Dorada’ 5K /10K /15K run in the beautiful mountains of El Valle de Anton.

The race will be on Sunday August 30 in El Valle de Anton. This annual event is in its second year, organized and hosted by Caminando Panama the North Face and the Smithsonian. Some of the routes have changed, so stay tuned and visit the event facebook page for updates.

Register from July 26 at The North Face – Multiplaza Mall or Hushpuppies Soho – Albrook Mall in Panama City.

dorada_race

En celebración del Festival de la Rana Dorada y en pro de la conservación de anfibios de Panamá regresa la Carrera-Caminata en Sendero La Dorada para el 2015!

Será el domingo 30 de agosto en El Valle de Antón. Este año hemos añadido un 10K y las rutas del 5K y 15K han cambiado un poco!!

Se podrán inscribir desde el 26 de Julio y en las tiendas de The North Face – Multiplaza, Soho Mall y Hushpuppies – Albrook Mall

Estén atentos para más info sobre la ruta, premios, congresillo y mucho más sobre esta gran actividad!

New Rescue Lab for Endangered Amphibians Opens in PanamaNuevo laboratorio de rescate de anfibios en peligro de extinción abre sus puertas en Panamá

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working together as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (PARC) opened a new safe haven for endangered amphibians today, April 8. The state-of-the-art, $1.2 million amphibian center at STRI’s Gamboa field station  expands on the capacity of the El Valle amphibian conservation center to implement a national strategy to conserve Panama’s amphibian biodiversity by creating captive assurance populations. Together these form the largest dedicated facility for amphibian conservation in Latin America.

Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation CenterPanama is a biodiversity hotspot for amphibians with more than 200 species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians. For the past 20 years, however, many of Panama’s unique and endemic amphibian species have declined or disappeared as a result of the deadly chytrid fungus that has spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, a third of amphibian species in Panama are considered threatened or endangered. Amphibian conservationists around the world have been working to establish captive populations of the world’s most vulnerable amphibian species to safeguard them from extinction.

Side view of facility“Our biggest challenge in the race to save tropical amphibians has been the lack of capacity,” said Brian Gratwicke, amphibian scientist at SCBI and international coordinator of PARC. “This facility will allow us to do so much more. We now have the space needed to safeguard some of Panama’s most vulnerable and beautiful amphibians and to conduct the research needed to reintroduce them back to the wild.”

The center features a working lab for scientists, a quarantine space for frogs collected from the wild and amphibian rescue pods capable of holding up to 10 species of frogs. In the working lab, SCBI scientists will continue research focusing on things like a cure for chytrid. Seven amphibianrescue pods house the amphibian collection and colonies of insects needed to feed them. Amphibian rescue pods are constructed from recycled shipping containers that were once used to move frozen goods around the world and through the Panama Canal; they have been retrofitted to become mini-ecosystems with customized terrariums for each frog species.

Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation Center“Our project is helping implement the action plan for amphibian conservation in Panama, authored by Panama’s National Environmental Authority—now Environment Ministry—in 2011,” said Roberto Ibañez, STRI project director for PARC. “This is only possible thanks to the interest in conservation of amphibian biodiversity by the government of Panama and the support we have received from businesses in Panama.”

The new rescue lab will be crucial to ongoing breeding efforts and breakthroughs, such as the successful hatching of an Andinobates geminisae froglet. SCBI and STRI scientists hatched the first A. geminisae froglet in human care in one of the amphibian rescue pods at the existing Gamboa amphibian conservation center. The tiny poison frog species, smaller than a dime, was discovered and described for the first time in Panama in 2014. They simulated breeding conditions in a rescue pod. The new facility will provide much-needed space to grow and expand, allowing them to build assurance populations for many more species. A small exhibition niche provides a window directly into an active rescue pod, where visitors can see rescued frogs and scientists as they work to conserve these endangered frogs.Exhibition niche where visitors can glimpse inside a pod

PARC is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Zoo New England, SCBI and STRI. Funding for the new facilities was provided by Defenders of Wildlife, Frank and Susan Mars, Minera Panama, the National Science Foundation and USAID.

As a research facility, PARC is not open to the public. However, there are interpretive panels and a window into the research pod where visitors can get a glimpse of the project in action. To learn more, the public is welcome to visit the new Fabulous Frogs of Panama exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Punta Culebra Nature Center, located on the Amador Causeway.

Panamá 8 de abril:

Los científicos del Instituto de Biología de la Conservación del Smithsonian (SCBI por sus siglas en inglés) y del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI), que colaboran en el Proyecto de Rescate y Conservación de Anfibios de Panamá (PARC) inauguraron un nuevo refugio para los anfibios en peligro de extinción. Las instalaciones localizadas en Gamboa, Panamá conforman el centro de conservación de anfibios más grande de su tipo. El nuevo centro extiende el trabajo iniciado en el Centro de Conservación de Anfibios localizado en El Valle de Antón (EVACC ) de implementar una estrategia nacional para la conservación de la biodiversidad de anfibios de Panamá mediante la creación de poblaciones de aseguranza en cautiverio.

Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation Center

Panamá es un punto clave de biodiversidad de anfibios con más de 200 especies de ranas, salamandras y cecilias. Sin embargo, durante los últimos 20 años, muchas de las especies de anfibios únicas de Panamá han disminuido o desaparecido como consecuencia del mortal hongo quítrido que se ha extendido por toda América Latina y el Caribe. De hecho, un tercio de las especies de anfibios en Panamá se consideran amenazadas o en peligro de extinción. Los conservacionistas de anfibios de todo el mundo están estableciendo poblaciones en cautiverio de las especies de anfibios más vulnerables para protegerlas de la extinción. Se cree que 122 especies de anfibios se han extinguido en todo el mundo desde 1980 en comparación con sólo cinco especies de aves y ninguna especie mamífero durante el mismo período.

“Nuestro mayor desafío en la carrera para salvar a los anfibios tropicales ha sido la falta de capacidad”, comentó Brian Gratwicke, científico especialista en anfibios del SCBI y coordinador internacional de PARC. “Esta instalación nos permitirá hacer mucho más. Ahora tenemos el espacio necesario para salvaguardar algunos de los anfibios más vulnerables y bellos de Panamá y llevar a cabo las investigaciones necesarias para reintroducirlos a la naturaleza”.

Side view of facility

El centro cuenta con un laboratorio de trabajo para los científicos, un espacio de cuarentena para las ranas colectadas de la naturaleza y cápsulas de rescate con capacidad para hasta 10 especies de ranas. En el laboratorio entre otros temas, los científicos del SCBI continuarán la investigaciones relacionadas con la búsqueda de una cura para el quítrido. El mes pasado publicaron algunos resultados en la revista científica, Proceedings of the Royal Society, demostrando que ciertas ranas doradas panameñas fueron capaces de sobrevivir la infección del quítrido gracias a la comunidad única de microbios que viven en su piel. Siete cápsulas de rescate albergan la colección de anfibios y los insectos necesarios para alimentarlos. Estas cápsulas de rescate se construyeron de contenedores reciclados que antes se utilizaron para transportar productos congelados por el Canal de Panamá. Estos se han modificado para servir como mini-ecosistemas con terrarios especializados para cada especie de rana.

“Nuestro proyecto ayuda a poner en práctica el Plan de Acción para la Conservación de los Anfibios en Panamá del 2011, cuyo autor es la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM), ahora Ministerio del Ambiente”, comentó Roberto Ibáñez, director del proyecto en el Smithsonian para PARC. “Esto ha sido posible gracias al interés en la conservación de la biodiversidad de anfibios por parte del gobierno de Panamá y el apoyo que hemos recibido de las empresas en el país.”

El nuevo laboratorio de rescate será clave en los estudios para lograr la reproducción de las ranas. Recientamente, los científicos del Smithsonian lograron eclosionar la primera ranita de A. geminisae bajo cuidado humano en una de las cápsulas de rescate en el centro de Conservación de Anfibios en Gamboa. La diminuta especie de rana venenosa, más pequeña que una moneda de diez centavos, fue descubierta y descrita por primera vez en Panamá en 2014. En una cápsula de rescate, los científicos simularon las condiciones de cría. La nueva instalación proveerá espacio muy necesario para crecer y expandirse, lo que les permite criar poblaciones de aseguranza para muchas más especies. Un pequeño nicho de exhibición ofrece una ventana directamente hacia una cápsula de rescate activa, donde los visitantes pueden ver las ranas y a los científicos mientras trabajan para conservar estas ranas en peligro de extinción.

PARC es una asociación entre el Zoológico de Houston, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, el zoológico de Nueva Inglaterra, SCBI y STRI. La financiación de las nuevas instalaciones fue proporcionada por Defenders of Wildlife, Frank y Susan Mars, Minera Panamá, la U.S. National Science Foundation y la USAID.

Exhibition niche where visitors can glimpse inside a pod

Por ser un centro de investigación, PARC no está abierto al público. Sin embargo, hay paneles interpretativos y una ventana a la cápsula de investigación donde los visitantes pueden dar un vistazo al proyecto en acción. Para obtener más información, el público está invitado a visitar la exhibición Las Fabulosas Ranas de Panamá en el Centro Natural de Punta Culebra del Smithsonian ubicado en la Calzada de Amador.

Newly Described Poison Dart Frog Hatched for the First Time in CaptivityPor primera vez se logra criar en cautiverio a una rana venenosa de dardo recientemente descrita

The first captive-bred Andinobates geminisae at the Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

The first captive-bred Andinobates geminisae at the Gamboa Amphibian Research and Conservation Center. Photo by Jorge Guerrel, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project hatched the first Andinobates geminisae froglet born in captivity. The tiny dart frog species only grows to 14 millimeters and was first collected and described last year from a small area in central Panama. Scientists collected two adults to evaluate the potential for maintaining the species in captivity as an insurance population.

“There is a real art to learning about the natural history of an animal and finding the right set of environmental cues to stimulate successful captive breeding,” said Brian Gratwicke, amphibian conservation biologist at SCBI and director of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. “Not all amphibians are easy to breed in captivity, so when we do breed a species for the first time in captivity it is a real milestone for our project and a cause for celebration.”

Scientists simulated breeding conditions for the adult frogs in a small tank. The frogs laid an egg on a bromeliad leaf, which scientists transferred to a moist petri dish. After 14 days, the tadpole hatched. Scientists believe adult A. geminisae frogs may provide their eggs and tadpoles with parental care, which is not uncommon for dart frogs, but they have not been able to determine if that is the case. In the wild, one of the parents likely transports the tadpole on his or her back to a little pool of water, usually inside a tree or on a bromeliad leaf.

Andinobates geminisae egg

After the tadpole hatched, scientists moved it from the petri dish to a small cup of water, mimicking the small pools available in nature. On a diet of fish food, the tadpole successfully metamorphosed into a froglet after 75 days and is now the size of a mature adult.

Andinobates geminisae tadpole

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project scientists are unsure if A. geminisae is susceptible to the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus. However, since it is only found in a small area of Panama and is dependent on primary rain forests, which are under pressure from agricultural conversion, they have identified it as a conservation-priority species.

The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project breeds endangered species of frogs in Gamboa, Panama and El Valle, Panama. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Zoo New England, SCBI and STRI. This study was supported by Minera Panama.

La primera ranita de Andinobates geminisae que naceeclosiona en cautiverio.

La primera ranita de Andinobates geminisae que naceeclosiona en cautiverio.

Científicos del Instituto de Biología de la Conservación del Smithsonian (SCBI por sus siglas en inglés) y el Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI), que trabajan en el Proyecto de Rescate y Conservación de Anfibios de Panamá lograron criar la primera Andinobates geminisae nacida en cautiverio. Ésta es una diminuta especie de rana venenosa de dardo que sólo crece 14 milímetros, por primera vez colectada en una pequeña zona en Panamá Central y descrita el año pasado. Colaboradores científicos colectaron y nos entregaron dos adultos con el propósito de evaluar el potencial para el mantenimiento de esta especie en cautiverio como una población de aseguranza.
“Hay un verdadero arte en aprender acerca de la historia natural de un animal y encontrar el conjunto adecuado de señales ambientales para estimular la cría en cautiverio exitosa”, comentó Brian Gratwicke, biólogo de la conservación de anfibios en SCBI y director del Proyecto de Rescate y Conservación de Anfibios de Panamá. “No todos los anfibios son fáciles de criar en cautiverio, así que cuando logramos criar una especie por primera vez, es un verdadero hito para nuestro proyecto y un motivo de celebración.”

Los científicos simularon las condiciones para la reproducción de las ranas adultas en un pequeño tanque. Las ranas pusieron un huevo en una hoja de bromelia, que luego se transfirió a un plato Petri húmedo. Después de 14 días, el renacuajo eclosionó. Los científicos creen que las ranas adultas de A. geminisae pueden proporcionar cuidados paternos a sus huevos y renacuajos, cosa que no es rara en las ranas de dardo, pero no han sido capaces de determinar si ese es el caso. En la naturaleza, uno de los padres transporta al renacuajo en su espalda hacia un pequeño charco de agua, por lo general dentro de un árbol o entre las hojas de una bromelia.

Andinobates geminisae egg

Después de que el renacuajo eclosionó, los científicos lo trasladaron del plato Petri a una pequeña taza de agua, imitando los pequeños charcos naturales. Con una dieta de comida para peces, después de 75 días el renacuajo se transformó exitosamente en una rana joven y ahora es del tamaño de un adulto maduro.

Andinobates geminisae tadpole

Los científicos del Proyecto de Rescate y Conservación de Anfibios de Panamá no están seguros si la A. geminisae es susceptible al hongo quitridio que está matando a anfibios. Sin embargo, ya que esta especie sólo se encuentra en un área pequeña de Panamá y depende de bosques tropicales primarios, que están bajo la presión por la conversión agrícola, la han identificado como una especie de conservación prioritaria.

El Proyecto de Rescate y Conservación de Anfibios de Panamá cría especies de ranas en peligro de extinción en Gamboa, Panamá y El Valle de Antón, Panamá. Este proyecto es una asociación entre el Zoológico de Houston, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, el Zoológico de Nueva Inglaterra, SCBI y STRI. Este estudio contó con el apoyo de Minera Panamá y Biodiversity Consultant Group.

# # #

El Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales, en ciudad de Panamá, Panamá, es una unidad de la Institución Smithsonian. El Instituto promueve la comprensión de la naturaleza tropical y su importancia para el bienestar de la humanidad; capacita estudiantes para llevar a cabo investigaciones en los trópicos; y fomenta la conservación mediante la concienciación pública sobre la belleza e importancia de los ecosistemas tropicales. Sitio web: www.stri.si.edu

Frog Friday: Toad Mountain Harlequin Frog

atelopus certus male calling

The toad mountain harlequin frog is all decked out in orange and black for Halloween! Atelopus certus is a biological treasure found only in Panama. This terrestrial species has a golden iridescent hue with spots like a giraffe. In its natural setting, the toad mountain harlequin frog can be found streamside or on mossy rocks in moist lowland and mountain forests.  We have a healthy population in captivity to safeguard against predicted chytridomycosis-related declines.

Atelopus certus  is endemic to Panama and identified only on a single mountain range in the south-western Darien region. Before 2011, this species was quite common within its small known range, and they were still abundant in 2013, but they are predicted to decline severely once chytridiomycosis arrives in that region. Thankfully, due to the swift action of the PARC project, Atelopus certus is being successfully reproduced in captivity. The Gamboa ARC has bred a very stable population 

Did you know? The Smithsonian Channel documentary “Mission Critical: Amphibian Rescue” recounts the valiant rescue effort to save this species from imminent extinction.

Post by Dara Wilson

Frog Friday: Red-Eyed Tree Frog

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! The bright red eyes, and blue striped sides of Agalychnis callidryas are a defense mechanism the frog uses to surprise potential predators, and avoid predation. During the day the red-eyed tree frog folds its legs at its sides, closes its eyes, and sleeps, effectively camouflaging itself on green leaves. You can observe this behavior in their natural habitat  of low to mid-elevation rainforests from the Yucatan to Colombia.  They are considered a species of least concern according to the IUCN, and are abundant throughout their range. We also have these beauties on display in our exhibit Fabulous Frogs of Panama at Punta Culebra Nature Center.

Did you know? Red-eyed tree frogs lay their eggs on plants overhanging the wáter, and when they hatch the tadpoles fall into the wáter.  Eggs in the trees can be eaten by wasps, snakes, or katydids, or killed by pathogenic fungus. Embryos can hatch early to escape from attacks by egg predators and pathogens, or in response to abiotic threats, but they typically hatch later if undisturbed. Thus tadpoles enter the water at different ages, sizes and stages of development. Tadpoles that were induced to hatch early are more likely to be killed by aquatic predators and less likely to survive to metamorphosis. After a month or more in the water, the tadpoles metamorphose into froglets. Metamorphs on land remain relatively inactive near the pond while they absorb their tails, then climb up into the trees and disappear. We know very little about their lives as juveniles.

 

Snake induced hatching of red-eyed tree frogs.

Video and information by Karen Warkentin Lab

Post by Hannah Arney

Frog Friday! Strawberry Poison Dart Frog

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Look, but don’t touch! Strawberry poison dart frogs (Oophaga pumilio) are known for their strikingly beautiful skin colors. Their bright color serves as a warning to predators that they are toxic. This type of “warning coloration” is called aposematism.  In the wild Oophaga pumilio gets its toxicity from its diet of ants and termites. The frogs we maintain in captivity in our exhibit Fabulous Frogs of Panama are fed small crickets and fruit flies. This change in diet eradicates any trace of poison in these frogs when they are raised in captivity

Strawberry poison dart frogs are generally a small species, about 0.75 to 1.5 inches (20 to 40 mm) in length. They are also mostly diurnal, and can be heard calling in the flooded forest.There are many poison frogs in the Dendrobatidae family with slightly different distributional ranges that can be found in Central America and northern South America. The species Oophaga pumilio are found in Mesoamerican countries and Panama.

Did you know? An Oophaga pumilio look alike was recently discovered in Panama by STRI scientist Cesar Jaramillo with  Abel Batista and Marcos Ponce (UNACHI) and Andrew Crawford (Universidad de los Andes). This new species Andinobates geminisae is still being described. Click here for more information.

Post by Dara Wilson

 

The 2014 Golden Frog Festival: Saving a National TreasureFestival de la Rana Dorada 2014: Salvando un Tesoro Nacional

GF with kids

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Participants: 2000

School Groups: 13 school groups – 300 students

Teacher Workshops: 3 workshops – 70 participants

Volunteers: 80

MEDIA COVERAGE

Radio & TV Spots: 10

News Articles: 7

Media Websites: 3

Social Media Statistics
Social media views*
        STRI Facebook page 19,717(18 posts)
        Punta Culebra Facebook page

PARC Facebook page

4,131(16  posts)

60,898 (41 Posts)

Festival event page 214 likes
Twitter hashtag used

Youtube video views

29

1023(7 videos)

*Total # of views for all posts about festival

 Youtube videos released to promote Golden Frog Festival

Name of Video # of Views # of Subscriptions driven # of shares
I love frogs 92 0 2
There’s a fungus among us 28 0 0
The Golden Frog 302 1 1
PARC Project 38 0 0
How can you help? 10 0 0
Frogs in culture 194 1 3
Why frogs matter 359 3 6
Total 1023 5 12

In August the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and partners celebrated the fourth annual Golden Frog Festival. The festival, consisting of various events held throughout Panama, calls local and global attention to the ecological and cultural value of the Panamanian golden frog and global amphibian declines. A major highlight of the festival was the opening of Fabulous Frogs of Panama, a new exhibit at Punta Culebra Nature Center featuring some of the world’s most beautiful, and endangered, frog species.

The festival kicked off on August 4 with a series of teacher workshops in El Valle de Anton led by Smithsonian Education Specialist Lidia Valencia and Peace Corps Response Volunteer Hannah Arney. Seventy teachers attended three workshop to learn about the new curriculum “Fabulous Frogs of Panama, which provides educational activities for use in teaching their students about amphibian biodiversity and conservation.

 

"Congratulations on this workshop that offered us greater knowledge of nature and science. The workshop was  practical and easy to apply to any grade level." Quote from a teacher who participated in the workshop

“Congratulations on this workshop that offered us greater knowledge of nature and science. The workshop was practical and easy to apply to any grade level.” ~ workshop participant

 

PARC scientists Jorge Guerrel and Rigoberto Diaz introduced the festival on the Panamanian national lottery highlighting the importance of the golden frog and encouraging Panamanians to help conserve amphibians.

 

 

Later that evening, the first Science in the City public talk was held at the Rana Dorada Pub. The event, held at one of our main sponsor’s venues, featured PARC scientist Jorge Guerrel and indigenous artisian Lanky Cheucarama. The pub talk was a vibrant mix of indigenous culture, conservation, education, and superb food & drinks!

 

Punta Culebra Nature Center held its soft opening of the new exhibit, “Fabulous Frogs of Panama.”  Sharon Ryan, public programs director at STRI, Matthew Larsen, STRI director, and Sylvia Cesaratto, the Canadian Ambassador for Panama, spoke about the importance of amphibians as national, cultural and biological treasures before inviting participants to visit the new exhibit.

The second Science in the City talk was held in the historic district of Casco Antiguo at the American Trade Hotel. Sharon Ryan, STRI’s director of public programs, and Brian Gratwicke, lead conservation biologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, talked about the PARC ‘s amphibian research, rescue and education programs.

 La Tribu finalized their performance by inviting a group of local school children to make an oath to live in harmony with the amphibians.

Performance by La Tribu

Throughout the day many people also contributed to a collective mural with the art & design studio La Tienda De Remedios

 The weekend was jam-packed with events and activities for families and frog enthusiasts. On Saturday, August 16, El Valle de Anton, the community where the PARC project began, held a family day to promote golden frog conservation. Local businesses and community groups supported the events – which included a performance by acrobatic group La Tribu, and a variety of fund and educational activities.  An estimated 500 people, mostly children, attended the event.

On Sunday August 17th, the Punta Culebra Nature Center hosted a frog themed family day to celebrate the launch of their new exhibit. The day’s events included face painting, informational presentations by STRI scientists, and frog themed games. The Rana Dorada food truck also came out to sell their delicious hamburgers and tacos.  La Tribu reprised their presentation from El Valle, and taught visitors about the importance of taking care of frogs and their habitat.

 

 

The final event of the 2014 Golden Frog Festival was a 5K/15K walk/race held in El Valle de Anton. This was the first trail walk/run race in Panama focused on raising awareness about wildlife conservation. Participants went through trails surrounding the beautiful Hotel Campestre while spectators, families, and children all watched in support.

 

Golden frog saving a life at the race in El Valle

Golden frog saving a life at the race in El Valle

Special thanks to:

  • The Festival Planning Committee (Sharon Ryan, Roberto Ibañez, Jorge Aleman, Nelly Florez, Sonia Tejada, Alvaro Gonzalez, Hannah Arney, Rigoberto Diaz, Lidia Valencia, Adrian Benedetti, Ana Matilde Ruiz, Ana Endara, Sean Mattson, Carlos Celis, Ana Lucrecia Arosemena, Heidi Ross, Dayra Navarro, Lanky Cheucarama, Dara Wilson)
  • Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project
  • Culebra guides
  • All volunteers that contributed to the events
  • Brian Gratwicke
  • Stratego Communications

Sponsors:

towerbank-logo-glow ATH logo la_rana_dorada_logo2

  • El Rey
  • Caminando Panama
  • APRADAP
  • The North Face
  • Sportshealth
  • Suunto
  • Purissima
  • Organica
  • Tacfit Panama
  • The TRI Store
  • Deka Music Group

Post by Dara Wilson, Media and Outreach Volunteer, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

New education tab launched!Pagina de educación lanzado!

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Lots of exciting things are happening with amphibian education here in Panama! The brand new exhibit “Fabulous Frogs of Panama” is open at Punta Culebra Nature Center on the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama. In conjunction with this exhibit the Punta Culebra staff and I have designed a whole new curriculum of activities to do with visiting school groups.  The curriculum is a product of collaboration by Smithsonian educators, PARC scientists, and myself. Thanks to Catherine de Rivera and the rest of her wonderful group from Portland State University we received training on inquiry-based learning techniques, and we are incorporating these methods in our brand new amphibian curriculum. It includes activities such as a dichotomous key to help students learn to identify amphibians, strategies that amphibians use to avoid predation, the frog life cycle, and the effects of chytrid fungus on amphibian skin. We have published a version of this curriculum right here on amphibianrescue.org, under the brand new education tab.  Coming soon we will also include on the education tab a virtual tour of the exhibit, videos, and other bilingual materials to be utilized by educators.  So stay tuned for exciting updates to this section of the website!

Ranas de Panama currículo

By Hannah Arney, Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Science and Biodiversity Curriculum Specialist, Punta Culebra Nature Center

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Muchas cosas emocionantes están sucediendo con la educación de los anfibios en Panamá! La nueva exhibición “Las Fabulosas Ranas de Panamá” está abierta en Centro Natural Punta Culebra en la Calzada de Amador en la Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá. En conjunción con esta exhibición el personal de Punta Culebra ha diseñado un nuevo currículo de actividades para hacer con los grupos escolares que visitan. El currículo de actividades es un producto de la colaboración de los educadores del Smithsonian, científicos del proyecto de PARC, y yo mismo. Gracias a Catherine de Rivera y el resto de su grupo maravilloso de Portland University recibimos capacitación sobre técnicas de aprendizaje basadas en la investigación, y estamos incorporando estos métodos en nuestro nuevo plan de estudios de anfibios. Incluye actividades tales como una clave dicotómica para ayudar a los estudiantes a aprender a identificar los anfibios, las estrategias que los anfibios utilizan para evitar la depredación, el ciclo de vida de una rana, y los efectos del hongo quítrido en la piel de los anfibios. Hemos publicado una versión de este programa de estudios aquí en amphibianrescue.org, bajo la nueva sección de la educación. Próximamente también vamos a incluir en la sección de la educación una visita virtual de las exposiciones, videos y otros materiales bilingües para ser utilizados por los educadores. Así que están atentos para las actualizaciones emocionantes a esta sección del sitio web!