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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.


  • 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.


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



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


A welcome sign of life

It’s that time of year again when Britain’s native amphibians are beginning to make an appearance in our cities, towns, gardens and countryside as the days begin to lengthen. Once the nightly temperatures warm above freezing, frogs, toads and newts begin to leave their hibernaculum’s and migrate to their local spawning sites.

The emerging amphibians and signs of their spawn is, for many people, a welcome sign of life and warmer times to come after the long and cold winter days. This year in particular, the importance of nature and wild spaces is at the forefront of our minds and perhaps, so should be how to lend nature a helping hand in return. This year there are a range of ways to make a difference to amphibians in your local area, whether it be in your own garden, town or county.

Frog and spawn : Getty images

You can help by reporting any sightings of amphibians to the record pool and spawn to freshwater habitats. Whether you find amphibians or spawn in your garden or when on a walk in your local area, reporting your sightings is an important component of monitoring amphibian populations across the UK.

As the weather warms and the amphibians begin to emerge from brumation, it is vital for them to find regular sources of food and areas to shelter if the temperature drops. Providing a range of vegetation to attract insects and wild areas of unmown grass can provide ample feeding opportunities and shady, damp spaces to rest safely.

Look out for toad road signs! These signs will be out in areas where roads cut through habitat where there are known annual amphibian migrations, which forces the amphibians to cross roads to spawn. Many amphibians are killed by cars before they have chance to spawn and produce the next generation of amphibians. Taking extra care when driving through these areas will reduce the chance of injuring the migrating amphibians and allow time to observe and appreciate the event!

PondNet Spawn Survey 2021

Report Your Sightings

Wildlife Garden – Froglife

Loss of a Leader

Professor Phil Bishop @AmphibianPhil

Over the weekend we were incredibly sad to hear the news that Professor Phil Bishop had passed away. Professor Bishop, or @AmphibianPhil as he was known online, was an iconic global leader in amphibian conservation. His successes and accolades were numerous and have been reflected through the outpouring of respect and heartfelt sadness at his sudden passing. Although we worked on different continents, his dedication and passion for the field was well known to us all and his leadership through dark times for amphibians was often a source of light.

I was lucky enough to meet the great man whilst attending the Amphibian Conservation Research Symposium (ACRS) in 2019. He was a larger than life personality who lit up the event with his charismatic talks and humorous promotion of his University town Dunedin which hosted the World Congress of Herpetology in 2020. He was warm and kind in his manner and had time for everyone, from students to veterans in the field, everyone was an equal in his eyes.

All the staff and volunteers here at Manchester Museum’s Vivarium have Phil’s family and friends in our thoughts and send heart felt condolences to them all. We are sure though that his contributions to amphibian conservation will continue to inspire future generations of frog loving scientists. A legacy he certainly would be proud of, and a future which is all the brighter for amphibians thanks to him.

Professor Phil Bishop @AmphibianPhil

Ecologist Article

A great article in The Ecologist recently by Carlos Zorrilla highlighting that the fate of Ecuador’s last remaining cloud forests and hundreds of livelihoods rest on the outcome of a Rights of Nature case concerning a couple of frog species, including the rediscovered Atelopus longirostris. Both have been enlisted to stop a large-scale copper mining project that has so far been promoted by eight different Ecuadorian governments.

Read it here: If the frogs should win

Biodiversity Crisis just as important as Climate Crisis

Rediscovery Of Atelopus longirostris

Visit frogblog’s NEWS LINKS page which relates not just to frogs but to potential environmental, cultural, and social injustices, some of which are not being shared in mainstream media.