It’s a giant leap forward for the Oregon spotted frogs, a critically endangered animal in British Columbia.
For the fifth year in a row, the Vancouver Aquarium has successfully bred the Oregon spotted frog, whose populations are in peril along the Western coast of North America.
This breeding development is great news, as this means that the tadpoles recently hatched at the Aquarium will be released into the wild tomorrow as part of our conservation efforts for this species, listed as vulnerable by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
As part of B.C.’s Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team, the Vancouver Aquarium became the first aquarium in the world to breed this species in 2010, and has successfully bred these animals each year since then for release of tadpoles to establish wild populations.
The Oregon spotted frog tadpoles will be released tomorrow at a site on crown land near Agassiz, B.C., representing an important conservation milestone for a species that is in peril.
Oregon spotted frogs have vanished from 90 per cent of their range in British Columbia. Historically, Oregon spotted frog populations had occurred throughout the Fraser Valley, from South Surrey to Hope. But loss of habitat resulting from the draining of wetlands in the Fraser River floodplain for agriculture and the conversion of agricultural land to housing and urban development, along with the arrival of invasive species, such as reed canary grass and bullfrogs, and industrial activity have decimated the populations.
The welfare of amphibian species such as the Oregon spotted frogs is vital. As indicators of environmental health, amphibians play an important role in the local ecology; their welfare indicates the level of health in those habitats in which they reside.
Additionally, removing a species from its ecosystem creates an imbalance that may negatively impact other species. This is certainly the case for amphibians, which serve as a key intermediary food source in the food chain.
As amphibians continue to face the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs, beeding programs such as this one for the Oregon spotted frog are critical in the conservation of this and other endangered and threatened species. There are only four wild populations of Oregon spotted frogs left in B.C.
Since 2009, Aquarium staff has been collecting Oregon spotted frog eggs to establish an aquarium-based assurance population. Between 2011 and 2013, over 10,000 tadpoles and juvenile frogs produced in our care were released into suitable habitats to increase small existing populations in the wild.