Research on the Tomato Frog
© Torino University
To study the distribution and life history of tomato frogs in Madagascar
Madagascar is known for the increasing deforestation rate, with slash and burn cultivation. Since a great part of the more than 220 Malagasy amphibian species is closely tied to the rainforest belt, one has to expect that the destruction of the rainforest will be accompanied by the extinction of many species. Beside the emblematic lemurs, the frogs of Madagascar have indeed the potential of becoming a real tool for wildlife conservation. This was highlighted during the recent Amphibian Conservation Action Plan held in Washington in September 2005. Furthermore, some species are actively traded for the pet market. This applies a.o. to the tomato frog, Dyscophus antongili, which, according to current knowledge, occurs only in a limited area of NE Madagascar, around Maroantsetra. Some time ago a project entitled "Threatened amphibians of Madagascar" was started, aiming at collecting basic life history data on the rarest frog species, especially those that are traded. The project includes research on:
This project mainly focusses on the tomato frogs Dyscophus antongili and D. guineti. Although currently classified as "near threatened" (and therefore apparently not so immediately in danger), D. antongili is the only species included in CITES Appendix I, since it was traded in the past. Since 1988, this inclusion has prevented further trade, but also has given the "feeling" that D. antongili did not suffer any problem in terms of conservation and habitat requirement. This is indeed not true, since virtually only little study was conducted on the ecology and distribution of this species, and it seems that in some places the habitat has been severely degraded and the species is suffering from this. Furthermore, the much similar D. guineti, which is known from mid-altitude sites along the east coast, has been conversely subject to collecting. In fact, as a consequence of the inclusion of D. antongili in CITES Appendix I, the pet trade concentrated on the much similar and equally attractive D. guineti which benefits from no legal protection. The impact of the trade on this species is completely unknown, and also the extent of trade is not yet surveyed.
Previous research projects already contributed to clarifying some taxonomic aspects and support the specific distinctness between D. antongili and D. guineti, but yet much remains to be done.
The project has the following aims:
The project will be one of the step stones in the increase of knowledge on amphibian conservation in Madagascar, and will assure a major visibility of the action plan using the tomato frogs as charismatic flagship species for the amphibian conservation.
WAZA Conservation Project 06001 is operated by the Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino (Italy), and Gondwana Conservation reserach, Cologne (Germany), supported by the following zoos: Zurich Zoo, St. Louis Zoo,Acquario di Genova, and The Living Rainforest.
> to project overview
© Torino University