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Behind the Glass- Harlequin Toads in Manchester

Hello to all frog blog visitors! 

My name is Lewis, a final year zoology student at the University of Manchester and a volunteer here at the Vivarium. Like many of you, I have been counting down the days before we are able to visit the museum once again- the wait is almost over! In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to focus my final year university project on the Harlequin toad and the success of the Atelopus Project.

My project aims to see how effective comic-assisted e-learning is at explaining a scientific subject- the subject being captive breeding programmes. Witnessing first-hand the hard work and dedication of the Vivarium staff- reflected by the recent announcement of the first successfully bred Harlequin toads outside of Panama- I have been inspired to incorporate this story into a comic book which the vivarium has kindly allowed me to share with you on the frog blog.

As part of the project, I have to collect some data. This means that you are required to answer some questions but don’t worry, your answers are completely anonymous. After answering the first block of questions you will be prompted to click the link for the comic, which will open in a new window. After reading the comic you are required to return to the window with the survey and complete the second block of questions. To finish, I just require some feedback on your experience. 

The whole process takes no more than 15 minutes! 

Thank you for contributing to my final year project, the link is down below!

https://www.qualtrics.manchester.ac.uk/jfe/form/SV_2tciCLVLhdJiGVM

Wulydermy

The Manchester Museum is very well known for its Taxidermy, but is also now pleased to be involved with.. Wulydermy. For Louise Worthington, the founder of Wulydermy, who’s been perfecting the art of sculptural needle felt, has been so inspired by our recent Santa Fe Harlequin Toad Breeding that she has been working on a new project – you guessed it, producing a beautiful felted Harlequin Toad.

Not only has Louise made some fabulous felted tropical toads to add to her collection but has very kindly made available a step by step set of instructions for you to easily make your very own. All the profits from this set of instructions will be donated directly to the Panama Wildlife Conservation Charity (PWCC) to support the Harlequin Toads from the Santa Fe National Park, Panama, and we are very grateful to Louise for all her support.

More usually inspired by the British countryside, Louise makes unique, life size animals and birds, using sculptural needle felt techniques. She only uses top quality British Rare Breeds wool, British wools. The Needle felt, and the launch of ‘Wulydermy’ has allowed Louise to combine her passion for the British countryside and wildlife into a full time job.

She runs online workshops that have stemmed from her knowledge of creating original needle-felted animals, and ‘Wulydermy’ has been accredited by the The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, who support the future of rare and native breeds.

Apart from the new Harlequin Toads, Louise offers a great range of British Wool Needle Felt Kits for you to make your own felted creatures.

She inspires others to care for wildlife and to felt with 100% British wool and that from rare breeds, which in turn supports their conservation.

FELTED HARLEQUIN TOAD SET OF INSTRUCTIONS

FULL HARLEQUIN TOAD NEEDLE FELT KIT

Organic Sylvia’s Frog T-Shirt

The perfect Easter gift for any young zoologist or budding herpetologist out there …

Made from 100% certified organic cotton, using eco-friendly water-based inks, and delivered in plastic free packaging, these highest quality T-shirts are available in sizes from ages 3 – 14 years and really are something special. 

 

 

 

 

 

Organic Cruziohyla sylviae T-SHIRT

Adult Splendid Frog Clothing Range 

60 Second Species!

Our 60 Second Species series, showing a variety of different types of wild animals and plants, started last week and will be added to on a weekly basis (each Wednesday). These short snippets feature wildlife in their country of origin (where they belong) and make easy watching and learning opportunities for all ages. It was actually Kasia Majewski who came up with the great idea – and the name, so thanks Kasia.

Whist the first ones will perhaps be a bit of a blast from the past for many of our followers, as the spring approaches our vivarium team will be out and about to highlight some of our incredible native flora and fauna in videos your’e sure to love. Here is one from Borneo by Matt (below), and you will find the ever growing 60 Second series a permeant feature on the frogblog from now on (See side & top tabs). Hope you enjoy.

 

Varius views

Everyone is entitled to their own views, particularly if based on fact. Here are some Atelopus varius facts, as we currently know them.

 

Atelopus varius, Panama (c) Andrew Gray

Atelopus zeteki, Panama (c) Andrew Gray, Courtesy of The Vancouver Aquarium.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?

  • Atelopus varius and Atelopus zeteki have been confused for a long time, with Atelopus zeteki being previously considered to be a sub-species (Atelopus varius zeteki). Taxonomy of these is a tricky area. However, this was clarified by Kim, Brown and Mosher as far back as 1975, when the presence of distinct toxins in A. zeteki helped to differentiate it from the closely related but distinctly different A. varius. The two different species have been confirmed in subsequent publications by Savage (2002) and Richard and Knowles (2007), to name a couple of key references.

Kim, Y.H., Brown, G.B. and Mosher, F.A., 1975. Tetrodotoxin: Occurrence in atelopid frogs of Costa Rica. Science, 189(4197), pp.151-152.

Richards, C.L. and Knowles, L.L., 2007. Tests of phenotypic and genetic concordance and their application to the conservation of Panamanian golden frogs (Anura, Bufonidae). Molecular Ecology, 16 (15), pp.3119-3133.

Savage, J.M., 2002. The amphibians and reptiles of Costa Rica: a herpetofauna between two continents, between two seas. University of Chicago press.

 

  • 

North American and Canadian collections have been working with A. zeteki since the early 2000’s and many institutions have successfully maintained and reproduced this critically endangered amphibian, which is a fantastic achievement that we are all very much aware of. These frogs have been successfully and professionally managed under the project ‘Golden Frog Project‘. We are also now aware that some of the animals exported to the USA from the El Cope region of Panama represented distinct evolutionary significant units that were certainly within the  genetic range of Atelopus varius. Some of the highly commendable work and captive breeding done with these frogs in US zoos, particularly by Detroit Zoo, deserves special mention.

 

  • Regarding work with A. varius already being done in Panama, this is well documented. Two noteworthy institutions include the Gamboa Amphibian Rescue Centre and El Valle Amphibian Conservation Centre, both of which are working with A. varius (amongst other species) and both conducting excellent work in captive breeding.

 

  • Manchester Museum do not claim to be the first in the world to reproduce A. varius from Santa Fe in captivity, just the first outside of Panama. It is important to highlight that the population Manchester Museum are working with is exclusively from Santa Fe National Park and that it represents a unique population. This population is facing several threats, including a road being built through the site and illegal deforestation and land clearances.

 

  • To our knowledge nobody else apart from Manchester Museum has been granted permission to collect and export A. varius from Santa Fe by the Panamanian Government. These populations were discovered 13 years ago (2008) by two Panamanian biologists and Dr Eric Flores.  Dr. Eric Flores is a Panamanian that as devoted his life to the study and conservation of endangered frogs in Santa Fe, Veraguas, Panama.  Specimens from this specific population were first introduced to EVACC by Dr. Flores, now a key collaborator with Manchester Museum and PWCC.

 

  • Manchester Museum are developing an important A. varius conservation project in collaboration with  the University of Panama and the NGO Panama Wildlife Conservation.  Together, they are directly supporting conservation and research activities inside Santa Fe National park. They are working directly with communities, monitoring local populations, developing Harlequin Frogs festivals, and environmental education workshops in Santa Fe, Panama.

 

  • Several important initiatives are trying to protect this species. The PWCC and Manchester Museum Atelopus varius Conservation Project believes in collaboration and supporting the work others, and although happy not to participate in the US led Atelopus varius initiatives we recognise that EVACC and the Smithsonian are conducting commendable work with this species in Panama, as are some collections involved in Project Golden Frog in the US.

 

 

We welcome your Varius views – comments are enabled

Science Week

British Science Week runs from 5th March and we are very pleased to support this fundamental initiative.

BioDiscovery 

Manchester University staffnet 

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

University of Manchester Site Schools 

Public Engagement 

‘Sylvia’s Frog’ by Francisco Lozano

Special thanks to Francisco Lozano, Shafia Fiaz and Katie Garrett.

Crocodylia by Francisco Lozano

Sylvia’s Frog T-shirt

Harlequin toad success

World Wildlife Day

MANCHESTER MUSEUM WWD EVENTS

BOOK ON THE WEBINAR

Sylvia’s Frog T-shirt

Virtual Vivarium

For people desperately missing their regular visit to the Vivarium, or perhaps those in the world who have never had the opportunity to even visit us, you can now do so Virtually – from the comfort of your sofa!

And – Through the development of new technology, from next month you will be able to have your very own guided tour, where you will get to meet a Curator, Live in the space, to have a realtime experience from wherever you are in the world.

For now, whether you are self educating your youngsters at home or simply wanting to find out more about the conservation and research work of Manchester Museum, please follow this link to transport yourself to

THE VIVARIUM