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Tadpoles added to Agassiz ecosystem

The Oregon spotted frog is being reintroduced into Agassiz
The Oregon spotted frog is being reintroduced into Agassiz's ecosystem, in an attempt to help the endangered amphibians grow in numbers.
— image credit: Neil Fisher/ Vancouver Aquarium

The population of Oregon spotted frogs went up in Agassiz this week, following a release of the tadpoles into a local waterway.

The release was organized by the Vancouver Aquarium, who recently hatched the tadpoles from egg masses. The aquarium is part of the B.C. Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Team, and they say the release is an "important conservation milestone for a species that is in peril in British Columbia and along the Western coast of North America."

The location of the tadpoles is being kept secret, in an effort to ensure the tadpoles' survival, Vancouver Aquarium told the Observer, but they are on Crown land. However, this is the fourth time the aquarium has held a release in Agassiz.

“As amphibians continue to face the largest mass extinction since the dinosaurs, propagation programs such as this one for the Oregon spotted frog are critical in the conservation of this and other endangered and threatened species,” said Dr. Dennis Thoney, Vancouver Aquarium’s director of animal operations. “There are only four wild populations of Oregon spotted frogs left in B.C., and so the continued success of our conservation efforts around the Oregon spotted frog is key to preventing this species from disappearing altogether."

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.

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. Since 2009, staff have been collecting Oregon spotted frog eggs to establish an aquarium-based assurance population.

The Recovery Team is working towards key goals of maintaining and expanding existing populations, and establishing six additional self-sustaining populations in B.C. Between 2011 and 2013, over 10,000 tadpoles and juvenile frogs produced in human care were released into suitable habitats to increase small existing populations in the wild.

news@ahobserver.com

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