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Mountain Chicken Frogs at risk of extinction lay eggs

By Melissa Horrocks     Jul 29, 2012 in Environment
London - Mountain chicken frogs that were rescued from the Caribbean have laid many eggs. Mountain chicken frogs were at risk of extinction due to a deadly disease, known as chytrid fungus.
Thanks to rescue attempts, the mountain chicken frog species may not become extinct. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, to protect this species of frog.
The frogs came from Montserrat, where the fungus has killed many mountain chicken frogs. The mountain chicken frogs were kept at London zoo, under a specialist breeding program that hopes to keep the species alive.
The frogs are known as mountain chickens and have been rescued by the Zoological Society of London and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The chytrid disease affects the skin of frogs, making painful lesions that stop the animals from inhaling oxygen and suffocating as a result. Over 500 amphibians have died due to the disease, which is spread through humans.
It was a challenging mission transporting them from the Caribbean to London. There were specialist temperature controlled boxes that the frogs were transported in. The boxes helped to reduce stress and protect the frogs on long, hazardous journeys.
The mountain chicken is one of the largest frog species in the world, but they are still very small in comparison to other animals. Therefore, they react to temperature changes and this can kill the frogs whilst being transported. Opening the boxes after the journey was hair raising. Experts did not know if the frogs would survive or not.
After the 50 frogs were transported, they were then divided into three groups and housed at ZSL London Zoo, the DWCT in Jersey and at Parken Zoo in Sweden. Since arriving at the zoo, they have been kept in a bio-secure breeding unit, this is where the eggs were laid, according to BBC News.
The chytrid disease has increased over the past ten years and caused many deaths. Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis survives by feeding on keratine, a protein that is found in the skin of frogs. Although the disease has had much research and study over the past decade, it is still baffling scientists. Rosenblum has carried out specific research that has helped scientists understand the disease more clearly. Some of the most advanced genetic technology was used by Rosenblum, when trying to understand the disease, at the most basic level. It is thought that a family of genes, known as fungalysin metallopeptidase, could be the key link to the disease, according to University of Idaho.
Repeating Islands report that, when mountain chicken females lay eggs they produce a special foam nest. Tadpoles then feed on the unfertilized eggs laid by the female. Mountain chicken frogs are at risk of extinction, not only through the fungus, but also because of volcanic activity, where they live on Montserrat. Due to the disease affecting a whole species of animal, it is incredibly important that it is understood.
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