24
Sat, Feb

Missing in Action

Typography

Once abundant in Southern California, the foothill yellow-legged frog inexplicably vanished from the region sometime between the late 1960s and early 1970s. The reasons behind its rapid extinction have been an ecological mystery.

Once abundant in Southern California, the foothill yellow-legged frog inexplicably vanished from the region sometime between the late 1960s and early 1970s. The reasons behind its rapid extinction have been an ecological mystery.

Environmental scientist Andrea Adamsset out to crack the case. While pursuing her Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara, she spent six and a half years reconstructing the missing amphibian’s story in an attempt to find out why it disappeared. Her dissertation — Adams earned her doctorate in 2017 — explored the importance of discovering a species’ past to inform its future. Now, a paper summarizing her findings about Rana boylii appears in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

“As species disappearances from unknown causes go, this one occurred at breakneck speed,” said Adams, now a lecturer in UCSB’s Environmental Studies Program. “The global trend of amphibian declines points to habitat loss, ultraviolet radiation and pesticides as potential culprits, yet most of these act gradually, slowly chipping away at populations over time. One of the only threats that can cause rapid extirpation — like that of Rana boylii in Southern California — is disease.”

Read more at University of California - Santa Barbara

Image: Did an amphibian fungus eradicate the foothill yellow-legged frog from Southern California?  Photo Credit: Alessandro Catenzzi