Boreal Toad Research: An Effort in Endangered Species Conservation

Jul 14, 2018

Amphibians are experiencing a massive decline globally. They are by far the most at-risk class of vertebrates, with over a third of species currently being threatened with extinction. The causes of this decline are complex and vary from species to species, but one of the major factors involved is the disease chytridiomycosis, caused by the recently emerged fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). In the past few decades an extremely virulent strain of Bd has spread around the world, causing the decline or extinction of many amphibian species. One of the species that is particularly vulnerable to Bd is Colorado’s only high elevation toad species, the Boreal toad. They used to be a common sight in Colorado, occupying areas around mountain wetlands above 8,000 feet. Now, largely due to Bd, they only persist in a few isolated pockets, including at multiple sites in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This event will give participants an overview of the current attempts at saving the Boreal toad in Colorado, with an emphasis on anti-Bd probiotic treatments. We will visit a declining Boreal toad habitat on the west side of the Park, collect some soil samples, then practice the microbiological methods used to isolate our target probiotic organism, J liv.