Researchers study the invasive frog’s role in Galapagos food web

Researchers study the invasive frog’s role in Galapagos food web
Fowler’s snouted treefrog Scinax quinquefasciatus was introduced on the Galápagos archipelago in the late 1990s. Credit: Senckenberg/Ernst

“I have taken pains to verify this assertion, and have found it true that frogs, toads, and newts are absent from most oceanic islands”—thus states Charles Darwin in his well-known work “On the Origin of Species.” For a long time, this observation by the famous naturalist also held true for the Galápagos Islands, which are inextricably linked to his name. “This only changed with the arrival of Fowler’s snouted treefrog Scinax quinquefasciatus on the archipelago in 1997 or 1998,” explains Dr. habil. Raffael Ernst of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden, and he continues, “In our study, we examined the interactions of this newcomer with the local, primarily endemic fauna on Galápagos.”

Ernst and his colleagues were curious to find out what role this 33-to-38-millimeter-long frog plays within the island fauna’s food

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How an Expedition to the Galapagos Islands Saved One of the World’s Largest Natural History Museums | Science

In the spring of 1905, eight researchers from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco set sail on a mission to complete a major comprehensive survey of the Galapagos Islands, something that no other institution had yet to accomplish. For 17 months, well-trained specialists in the fields of botany, geology, paleontology, entomology, malacology (the study of mollusks), ornithology and herpetology went on a collecting spree. They gathered multiple specimens of plants, birds, mammals, insects and reptiles. While they suspected that the collected specimens would help solidify Darwin’s theory of evolution and inform the world about Galapagos wildlife, they couldn’t have imagined that when they returned home, their city would be recovering from a catastrophic earthquake and conflagration that nearly destroyed their own institution.

“The Galapagos expedition was kind of a way to prove themselves. In the vein of, ‘We’re this scrappy little West Coast institution and we want to

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