Monday, October 29, 2007

Endangered Costa Rican frog focus of study

MANCHESTER, England, Oct. 29 (UPI) - British biologists are studying a Costa Rican leaf frog, Cruziohyla calcarifer, to save it from extinction and learn how to care for it in zoos and aquariums.

Scientists from The University of Manchester and the Chester Zoo - Britain's largest zoo - said the brightly colored frog, a native of the Costa Rican rainforest, is being threatened by a combination of environmental change and disease.

"This research aims to contribute to our understanding of the basic factors that influence the development and survival of these frogs," said Richard Preziosi, the project's lead investigator.

"For instance, with the exception of certain mammals, we know surprisingly little about what animals should be eating. And yet the diet of splendid leaf frogs affects their coloration which, in turn, determines their mating behavior.

"The global decline in amphibian populations means research such as this, carried out ex situ, is therefore critical for both conservation projects in the wild and for maintaining and successfully breeding the frogs in zoos and aquariums," he added.

The research is being complemented by field studies in Costa Rica that include examining the effect that ultraviolet rays have on the fitness and viability of captive-bred frogs.

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