Image of the Day: Floating Frog
Image of the Day: Floating Frog

Image of the Day: Floating Frog

A frog performs a balancing act in a region where amphibians are threatened.

Oct 4, 2019
Emily Makowski
ABOVE: This mossy red-eyed frog, one of the many species of amphibians affected by chytrid fungus, is “floating” on spiky plant hairs.
JONATHAN KOLBY

Jonathan Kolby, a policy specialist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the director of the Honduras Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Center, studies the global spread of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Chytrid is a waterborne pathogen that causes chytridiomycosis in amphibians, a skin infection that can lead to lethargy and death. Kolby was part of a team that conducted a global assessment of chytrid infection released in Science earlier this year. The researchers found that over the past 50 years, chytrid has had a role in the decline of at least 501 species of amphibians worldwide, which include 90 species thought to be extinct.

Kolby photographed the mossy red-eyed frog (Duellmanohyla soralia) in the above photo as part of his research at a field site in Cusuco National Park, Honduras. In a September 19 tweet, he describes how the frog is “floating” on the spiky hairs of a plant leaf, not sitting on its surface. After Kolby took the photo, he swabbed the skin of the frog to test for infection. “Fortunately, this individual tested negative for infection with chytrid, which I was quite happy about,” he says in a message to The Scientist.

This video, co-produced by Kolby, describes recent findings about chytrid’s devastating effects.
KATIE GARRETT AND JONATHAN KOLBY

B.C. Scheele et al., “Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity,” doi:10.1126/science.aav0379, Science, 2019.

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com