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Sounds of Survival: The quest to record an exquisite spike-thumb frog mating call

Deep in the emerald cloud forests of Cusuco National Park of Honduras, scientists are on a quest to record the never-before-heard call of the endangered “exquisite spike-thumb frog” (Plectrohyla exquisita). This charming ambassador for the park’s rich biodiversity is just one of 16 different species of amphibians listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN that are clinging to survival inside the small park. Some are found nowhere else on Earth.

The exquisita’s mating call, if found, might inspire frogs at the Honduras Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Center (HARCC) to breed in captivity, an important step in protecting the endangered species. But how can we find and record this call when we don’t know what it sounds like? And how can it be recorded clearly in the middle of a bubbling river?

In the bioGraphic video above, herpetologist and conservationist Jonathan Kolby teams up with sound artist Ben Mirin to record the exquisite spike-thumb frog mating call. We also see and hear some beautifully filmed moments with other small creatures in the landscape.

Plectrohyla exquisita
herpetologist and conservationist Jonathan Kolby teams up with sound artist Ben Mirin
Learn more about HARCC’s conservation work, and the chytrid fungus that’s harming amphibian populations around the globe, in the short film below. Both films were produced by biologist and filmmaker Katie Garrett.

Next: Mapping whale songs in the South Pacific, A Blind Birdwatcher Sees With Sound, and how do birds learn to sing?

Then watch cell division in a frog egg, a microscopic time-lapse video, raising wood frogs, from eggs to tadpoles to adults in 7 weeks, and repopulating an Ohio creek with giant salamanders.

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