This week, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that its Bronx and Queens Zoo animal experts have partnered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to uncover a what’s causing a decline in northern cricket frogs, a tiny frog native to New York and other areas in the eastern United States.
According to the WCS, the DEC and WCS have reported a major decline in cricket frogs in New York State with locations of cricket frog populations within New York dropping from 25 to only three or four over the last decade.
Cricket frogs, that live in forests that have swamps, streams, lakes or ponds, are protected within New York State—The study will serve to conserve the at-risk species, by figuring out exactly why the species is declining.
“To determine the cause of the cricket frog loss, WCS pathology, herpetology and animal management staff are lending their expertise in surveys of cricket frogs and wildlife health assessments,” stated WCS in a press release.”Together with the DEC, WCS staff is working to rule out two common amphibian pathogens as a reason for the decline: amphibian chytrid fungus and rana virus.”
WCS experts will test for these diseases by going into the field to collect swabs from the frogs and other area amphibians, which will then be brought to the Bronx Zoo’s molecular diagnostics laboratory to test for the presence of disease.
“By testing for disease pathogens we hope to eliminate disease as a reason for their population declines. Then we can continue to narrow down the list of possible causes until we discover why these guys are disappearing. We have a long way to go to figure out the answers to this mystery, but at least this is a first step,” said Dr. Scott Silver, director and curator of the Queens Zoo in a press release.