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SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS, CA — Last week, biologists from the USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) and partnering agencies released hundreds of endangered, mountain yellow-legged frog tadpoles back to their historic habitat in southern California.

Disease, habitat loss, and invasive predators have driven mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) to the brink across their range from the southern Sierra Nevada to southern California. In an effort to boost their numbers, the Los Angeles Zoo established a captive-breeding program to rear tadpoles in a safe environment before releasing them into the wild. A new generation of captive-reared tadpoles made their way to their final destination this week, when representatives from the Zoo, WERC, and cooperators tucked them neatly into temperature-controlled backpacks and trekked into the San Gabriel Mountains. There, the tadpoles should thrive in streams and ponds protected from non-native predators like trout and crayfish.

Read the L.A. Times’ cover story on this event.

For more information on WERC’s mountain yellow-legged frog research, check out the project webpage.

Releasing endangered tadpoles
Scientists from the USGS and California Department of Fish and Wildlife release endangered tadpoles into a stream in the San Gabriel Mountains, southern California, as part of an effort to restore the mountain yellow-legged frog to historic habitat. (Credit: Joanna Gilkeson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)
mountain yellow-legged frog tadpole
Special "cooler" backpacks with space to safely transport tadpoles of the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa). Tadpoles were kept in the plastic bags, similar to those used for transporting a fish home from the pet store. (Credit: Jane Hendron, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)


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