World Rainforests


THE GOLDEN TOAD

Considered to be one of the most spectacularly colored toads on Earth with its brilliant yellow-orange coloring, the Golden toad is believed to be limited to only a single mountain in Costa Rica, Monteverde. Although always rare, for a few weeks in April every year, hundreds on these brilliant toads gathered in pools in a breeding orgy. However, the toad population dropped sharply since its discovery in 1967 from several thousand gathered in 1987 to just 10 in 1988, none of which were breeding. In 1989 only a single male toad, seeking a mate, was observed. This individual may have been the last Golden toad on Earth; no golden toads have been seen since. The disappearance of the golden toad is of particular significance since its habitat is in a national preserve.

The mechanism triggering the disappearance of the Golden Toad and the decline in frog and toad populations worldwide is unknown. It is speculated that global climate change or increased UV penetration may be responsible. Recent American studies show that increased UV radiation have a significant effect on the development of amphibians. In 1997 and 1998, researchers found evidence that a fungus-like microbe (chytrids) may be partly responsible for the demise of amphibian populations. UV-radiation, pollution, and climate change may have weakened the immune system leaving amphibians vulnerable to infection from the usually harmless microbes.

Research in early 2000 indicate that a similar die-off among amphibians caused by chytrid skin disease may have occurred in the late 1970s
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Copyright Rhett Butler 1994-2005