Endangered Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Tadpoles Released In California Creek

June 27, 2018

After being captive-bred in captivity, more than 500 endangered southern mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) tadpoles were released in Big Rock Creek in Southern California, the first time that the species has been known to inhabit the waterway in 50 years.

2,000+ Endangered Frogs Hatch at L.A. Zoo

We're proud to announce that over 2,000 endangered Southern mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles have recently hatched at the L.A. Zoo. This species is native to the San Gabriel Mountains, and the tadpoles are the offspring of two groups of adult frogs we took into our care in 2014 when we were tasked to create an insurance colony for this species on the brink of extinction. “When we learned there was a species of amphibian in our own back yard that was in danger of becoming extinct, we joined forces with several local and federal organizations to create an insurance colony that could be reproduced and whose offspring could one day be returned to the wild,” said Ian Recchio, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Based on our past experiences with sensitive amphibian species, we were confident we could raise their numbers. This endangered species of frog is only found in Southern California, so we felt a responsibility to help before it’s too late.” The Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Recovery Program is a collaborative endeavor between the Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Institute For Conservation Research, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Posted by Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens on Thursday, May 24, 2018

The frog, whose wild populations numbered as few as 100, was listed as an endangered species in Southern California by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2014. The wild population has since been upgraded to an estimated 400 individuals, according to the Los Angeles Times. Hopefully, many of the released tadpoles will thrive to become adults and propagate.

mountain yellow-legged frog

adam backlin/usgs

Wild populations of the southern mountain yellow-legged frogs have been bolstered with the release of 500 captive-bred tadpoles.

The federal government launched a recovery program for the species in 2010, according to the Los Angeles Times, and it did experience challenges. In July 2013, 104 captive-bred sub adult frogs died at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, and 36 tadpoles released in 2012 were never seen in any form. But the frog breeds well in captivity, and this makes the species an excellent candidate for recovery. 

Mountain and Sierra Yellow Legged Frogs Added to Endangered Species List

"These frogs are great animals for captive reproduction as they can produce up to 200 eggs in a single clutch, so we have the potential to produce many new animals in a short period of time for re-establishment," Adam R. Backlin, an ecologist with the USGS told ReptilesMagazine.com back in 2012.

The current breeding and recovery effort, comprised of the federal government and the Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska bred more than 2,500 tadpoles this breeding season, so breeding them in captivity is no longer a challenge. The researchers will monitor how the offspring fare in the wilds of Big Rock Creek. Let's hope that they thrive!


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