Our annual newsletter highlights our 2022 accomplishments in frog recovery, disease ecology research, and mentoring of next-generation scientists! This year, our newsletter shares their voices and views on working in wilderness, learning research skills, and being part of an ongoing conservation project. In short, it takes a village. You can learn how we fund mountain-yellow legged frog recovery, and how you can help (like donating your used smartphone!). A big thank you to our hard-working technicians, the staff at UC Santa Barbara Earth Research Institute and the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab, and all of our agency partners in frog conservation for a successful season!
California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs are endangered. One reason is an ongoing wildlife pandemic (or, a panzootic). Worldwide, amphibians are threatened by a disease called chytridiomycosis, caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This disease has caused declines in frog and salamander species across six continents, including here in California. In a public seminar on Thursday 12 November 2020, our own Mountain Lakes Research Group Principal Investigator Tom Smith, PhD described some of the conservation tools that we study. Our goal is to help mountain yellow-legged frog populations persist in a landscape with widespread disease.
The recorded seminar is available to watch:
This seminar was part of the UC Santa Barbara Natural Reserve System seminar series. Our research group is based out of the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, which is part of the Natural Reserve System.
Our work on Bd mitigation and cooperation with California and U.S. wildlife agencies was recently described on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s blog, in a series on conservation in action. Thanks to Meghan Snow for the write-up, and to Jill Seymour, Isaac Chellman, and many others for their collaboration on this project. See the link below:
The latest release in the Yosemite Nature Notes video series features the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and describes ongoing efforts to recover this species in Yosemite National Park. Check it out.
A paper entitled “Disease and climate effects on individuals drive post-reintroduction population dynamics of an endangered amphibian” by Max and Roland was published in Ecosphere today. The accompanying UCSB story is available here. Although developed for mountain yellow-legged frogs, the hierarchical Bayesian hidden Markov model they developed might be applicable to other species impacted by the amphibian chytrid fungus.
In this new video, UCSB videographer Spencer Bruttig talks to Roland during a visit to one of his Yosemite study sites and gets the latest on the outcome of frog conservation efforts there. Amazingly, despite all of the challenges the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog has faced during the past century, the frogs are making a remarkable comeback. Hear about this exciting turn of events from someone who witnessed the frogs’ decline and now the beginning of their recovery.
A paper by Roland and colleagues was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. The accompanying UCSB story is available here. The study shows that despite the ongoing presence of introduced fish and the amphibian chytrid fungus, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs are recovering across Yosemite National Park. This recovery is occurring because some lakes have been restored to their original fishless condition, and frogs are developing increased resistance to fungal infection. These results suggest that some amphibians may be more resilient than is often assumed, and with appropriate management, declines of such species may be reversible. That is great news!