Thin skinned but still in the clear

The male tree frog is usually brown-red and smaller than the female by Gideon Climo

The findings of screening done on various islands in the Seychelles between May 2010 and March 2013 to test amphibians for Bd have just been published in the Herpetological Review. Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) is a fungus that causes illness in the species, threatening amphibian populations worldwide with 71 countries and nearly 700 species reportedly affected.

The Herpetological Review is a quarterly publication featuring peer-reviewed writing focusing on the study of reptiles and amphibians (herpetology).

The Sooglossid frogs are endemic to the seychelles, one of them amongst the smallest in the world.

“Seychelles is unlike most oceanic islands in that it has a relatively large amphibian species count. This is because it was once part of a larger continent; amphibians cannot cross water,” says Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO. “Such scientific reports are important reference sources for organisations in Seychelles working on wildlife protection, especially endemic species.”

According to the March 2015 issue, scientists and technical experts from various countries including the UK, Australia and Seychelles (Labisko et al), reported that there was no previous testing of Bd carried out in the Seychelles, where 86% of the country’s amphibians are endemic. “Eleven of the twelve species of Seychelles amphibians are globally significant.”

 Caecilians are limbless amphibians that have segmented bodies that are long and worm like

The amphibians which were captured and swabbed in the 2010-2013 screening were the Mascarena frog (Ptychadena mascareniensis); Seychelles tree frog (Tachycnemis seychellensis); Seychelles pygmy frog (Sooglosus sechellensis); Gardiner's Seychelles frog (Sechellophryne gardineri); Thomasset's Seychelles frog (Sooglossus thomasseti); Stejneger's caecilian (Grandisonia alternans); Indian Ocean caecilian (Grandisonia larvata); Seychelles caecilian (Grandisonia sechellensis); Mahe caecilian (Hypogeophis brevis); and Frigate Island caecilian (Hypogeophis rostratus).

 None of the coralline islands or coralline atolls support amphibians

The screening was carried out on Mahe, North Island, La Digue, Silhouette, Praslin and Cerf Island, all inner islands. Samples were taken from one or two sites on each island. Of all the 291 amphibians screened, none of them tested positive for Bd.

The paper points out that this is not a clear indication of the absence of Bd in Seychelles. The recommended minimum number of individuals per species that should be sampled is 59 for areas where infection is low. The team achieved this for the Seychelles tree frog and Thomasset's Seychelles frog with 99 and 66 individuals respectively captured, swabbed and released.

 The female Seychelles tree frog is usually green and larger than the male by Jon Dale

The report further highlights the need for “targeted conservation” efforts considering reported positive tests for Bd on Madagascan frogs.

“Like many small tropical islands, Seychelles endemic species, both fauna and flora could be susceptible to threats from diseases and invasive species if conservation efforts and policies are not directed and sustained,” Shah says. “For instance on Cousin Island Special Reserve which we manage, specie numbers and behavior are regularly monitored and recorded for reference or further action.”

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