After 30 years, researchers in Ecuador have rediscovered another toad species thought to be extinct. It was thought that frog species in the rain forests of Ecuador were devastated by chytrid disease, which affected even the Mindo harlequin toad.
In August of 2019, scientists proved that the species was able to hang on and that the frogs may be developing resistance to the disease.
The Mindo harlequin toad has its habitat in the northern cloud rain forest areas of Ecuador in South America. This remote region sees scientists and researchers regularly. But none have seen the species in its natural habitat for almost 30 years, when the disease began to hit all frog species, including all 25 species of the Atelopus species.
In this region of the rain forest, researchers again came across the Mindo while conducting research and trying to identify as many frog species as possible.
About the Mindo Harlequin Toad
The Mindo Harlequin species was once a commonly known toad in the rain forests of Ecuador. The toad’s habitat is near rivers and other moving bodies of water where it can stay moist.
Its green and red coloring with white speckles is almost iconic and frequently used to denote the region in which the toad is commonly found. Some of the reasons the Mindo Harlequin Toad is thought to be endangered is the loss of its habitat due to deforestation. Furthermore, the fungal disease has taken the lives of toads that get infected.
More About Chytrid Disease
Chytrid disease is well known and documented in amphibian species across the world. Caused by a fungus, chytrid disease is particularly harmful to species in regions where the fungus is newly introduced, killing off or endangering entire species as it spreads.
In the rain forests of Central and South America, the fungus spread to entire species of amphibians. This included frogs, causing a regional decline in the population. The Mindo Harlequin Toad is one of several species that was especially hard hit when the disease was first known to have reached Ecuador.
Rediscovery of the Thought to Be Extinct Toad
For almost 30 years, this specific species was thought to be extinct because it had not been seen or documented in any of its known habitats.
In late 2019, a small research group was working on a private area of land in the rain forests of Ecuador when they spotted what they believed to be the Mindo Harlequin Toad. The team gathered the necessary information to document and verify their discovery. In early 2020, it was confirmed. The once thought extinct toad is, in fact, still around and in the region native to the species.
It is unknown how many more of its species exist in their natural habitat, or whether the species has developed resistance to the disease. For now, it has been placed on the list of amphibian species that have been able to survive the fungal disease.