In the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve of Costa Rica, there were once so many harlequin frog species (Atelopus) that it was hard not to step on them when walking alongside streams. But during the 1980s and 1990s, most of these frogs vanished due to deadly infectious diseases brought on by changing water and air temperatures.
Research done in Costa Rica shows that global warming makes clouds form higher above the forests where they cannot bring as much moisture to the ecosystems below. Dry spells are getting longer and in turn, many species are disappearing. Rising temperatures also shrink the cloud forests, which forces species to live closer together, spreading fungal diseases. The harlequin frog is on its way to extinction.
As J. Alan Pounds, research scientist at Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, has said on the Eco Preservation Society site:
Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger. Global warming is wreaking havoc on amphibians and will cause staggering losses of biodiversity if we don’t do something fast.
A small population of Harlequin Frogs was discovered about 6 years ago in the Rainmaker Preserve in Costa Rica, one of the last remnants of primary rainforest in the Central Pacific.
To get some idea of the incredible diversity of wildlife in the Rainmaker Preserve (which can be visited on eco-tours) check out this video :
Here is more information about the cloud forest of Costa Rica from the Monteverde Conservation League.
I am passing along a Care2 petition to urge Costa Rica’s Ambassador Escalante to do everything in his power to save this colorful little frog, along with many other endangered species affected by climate change.