April 25, 2014 7:55 pm

Aquarium successfully breeds critically endangered frogs, for the 5th year

A young Oregon Spotted Frog.

Vancouver Aquarium

VANCOUVER – The Oregon Spotted Frog is listed as critically endangered in British Columbia.

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They have vanished from 90 per cent of their range in this province when they once thrived in areas throughout the Fraser Valley, from South Surrey to Hope. The decline in populations has been due to loss of habitat resulting from the draining of wetlands in the Fraser River floodplain for agriculture and the conversion of agricultural land to housing and urban development. In addition, the arrival of invasive species, such as reed canary grass and bullfrogs, and industrial activity have decimated the populations.

Five years ago, the Vancouver Aquarium joined B.C.’s Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team and in 2010 became the first aquarium in the world to breed this species. Between 2011 and 2013 more than 10,000 tadpoles and juvenile frogs were released into sustainable habitats. The aquarium has since bred them every year for release of tadpoles to establish wild populations and on Saturday the new tadpoles will be released.

Researchers say the welfare of amphibian species such as the Oregon Spotted Frogs is vital. As indicators of environmental health, amphibians play an important role in the local ecology and their welfare indicates the level of health in those habitats in which they live.

Additionally, removing a species from its ecosystem creates an imbalance that may negatively impact other species. This is certainly the case for amphibians, which serve as a key intermediary food source in the food chain.

As amphibians continue to face the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs, breeding programs such as this one for the Oregon Spotted Frog are critical in the conservation of this and other endangered and threatened species. There are only four wild populations of Oregon spotted frogs left in B.C.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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