Once Thought Extinct Andean Toad Rediscovered

March 26, 2014

Biologists with the nonprofit Biodiversity Group have rediscovered a toad native to the Andes Mountains that was thought to have gone extinct. A single Tandayapa Andean toad (Andinophryne olallai) was first discovered in 1970 in Tandayapa Pichincha Province, Ecuador. Several herping expeditions to the region following the discovery over the last 40 years failed to find the toad again, and scientists suggested that the toad was extinct.

In 2012, the notion that the toad was extinct changed as two surveys that took place at the Rio Manduriacu in Imbabura Province discovered the presence of Andinophryne olallai toadlets,  juveniles, and adults in numerous stream systems in the region.

According to the scientists, the region of the Rio Manduriacu in which the toads have been found is surrounded by various logging, mining, and hydroeletric developments, which the scientists say could compromise the future survival of the species. They say that there is a need to establish a monitoring program for the toad and to protect the remaining population as well as their habitat in the region.

In 2010, not enough data is available on the toad for the IUCN to make a determination with regard to the status of the animal, which has classified it as Data Deficient. More recent assessments consider it endangered based on its restricted range, the apparent extirpation of the species from the type locality and the degradation of its habitat due to the man made activities mentioned above. In addition to the Tandayapa Andean toad, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been known to frequent the region. 

The scientists who rediscovered Andinophryne olallai include Ryan Lynch, lead biologist and photographer for The Biodiversity Group in Quito, Ecuador; Sebastian Kohn, administrator for the Antisanilla-Sunfohuaico Reserve in Ecuador; Fernando Ayala-Varela, director of the herpetology collection at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito; Paul S. Hamilton, founder and executive director of the Biodiversity Group in Tuscon, Ariz.; and Santiago Ron, curator of amphibians and professor at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador.

The complete paper can be found at the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation website

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