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Artificial Misting System Allows Reintroduction of Extinct Toad 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the spritzing-back-to-life dept.
terrancem writes "The Kihansi Spray Toad went extinct in the wild in 2005 when its habitat in Tanzania was destroyed by a dam. However conservationists at the Bronx Zoo managed to maintain a captive population which is now large enough to allow a bold experiment to move forward: reintroducing the toad into its old habitat. To make the once tropical gorge moist again, engineers have designed an artificial misting system that should allow toads to survive in the wild. The effort marks what may be the first time conservationists have ever re-established an 'extinct' species in a human-engineered ecosystem."
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Artificial Misting System Allows Reintroduction of Extinct Toad

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  • Extinct? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rotorbudd (1242864)

    If there was a captive population all along how could the species be extinct?
    Good job editors.

    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Friday November 02, 2012 @06:14AM (#41851171)
      The lesson that we can take away from this is that good editors should have been kept in zoos too.
    • by immaterial (1520413) on Friday November 02, 2012 @06:28AM (#41851209)
      You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means!
    • Re:Extinct? (Score:5, Informative)

      by davmoo (63521) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:29AM (#41851435)

      The editors are correct. It very clearly says "extinct in the wild". "In the wild" does not include "in captivity".

      • by arth1 (260657)

        The editors are correct. It very clearly says "extinct in the wild". "In the wild" does not include "in captivity".

        Even when in Manhattan?

         

         

    • Re:Extinct? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dywolf (2673597) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:25AM (#41851699)

      And the call is....no foul on the editors! The summary says right there "extinct in the wild"

      Extinct in the wild is a valid classification, used when biologists are unable to confirm a types existence in...the wild..., or when they are only able to find 1 or 2 specimens, which is also sometimes called "functionally extinct". such as the last of one of the giant tortoise subspecies that died recently, that was the sole remaining member known, and male, and as such totally unable to breed and continue the (sub)species.

      So you are very very -NOT- insightful.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      extinct

      They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it does.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Not only is your comment redundant, it's wrong. I'm redundant, too, when I point out (as has already been done) that it's extinct IN THE WILD. That's accurate. You just missed three words is all.

    • by arielCo (995647)

      The Kihansi Spray Toad went extinct in the wild in 2005 when its habitat in Tanzania was destroyed by a dam.

      Extinct in the Wild (EW) is a conservation status assigned to species or lower taxa, the only known living members of which are being kept in captivity or as a naturalized population outside its historic range.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinct_in_the_Wild [wikipedia.org]

  • A very unusual toad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday November 02, 2012 @06:13AM (#41851165) Journal

    These toads are very unusual. The noise of the waterfall makes croking an impractical method of communication. They instead use hand signals to communicate.

    • by GDI Lord (988866)
      And here I thought what made them unusual was that they could spontaneously change sex...
    • by Loosifur (954968) on Friday November 02, 2012 @06:48AM (#41851287)

      Do you have a reference for that? Because I just blew twenty minutes looking for videos of frogs signing to each other when I could have been watching porn.

    • Drivers in Washington DC can't communicate on the highways and instead use hand signals to communicate with other drivers. Kind of an interesting adaptation...

      If a species has gone extinct in the wild should humans reintroduce them? I assume species go extinct because they are nonviable...who the heck are we to play God when the reintroduced species will most likely suffer and/or perish again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rainmouse (1784278)

        If a species has gone extinct in the wild should humans reintroduce them? I assume species go extinct because they are nonviable...who the heck are we to play God when the reintroduced species will most likely suffer and/or perish again.

        They became nonviable because we destroyed their habitat. It seems strange that you consider undoing damage we have caused as somehow playing God, but not the actual acts of habitat destruction, extinction of species and land modification. What is it about Bible thumping that goes hand in hand with corporate cash flow without moral recompense?

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          If you are anti-religious, as you seem to elude to, then you must accept that we are natural beings and are not the only ones that advantageously alter their habitat without regard for the consequences to other natural beings. [wikipedia.org]

          You have not refuted his point. You have unwittingly supported it.
        • by tompaulco (629533)
          They became nonviable because we destroyed their habitat. It seems strange that you consider undoing damage we have caused as somehow playing God
          All errors are cumulative, all interference is absolute value. Two wrongs don't make a right, although three lefts do.
      • who the heck are we to play God

        I'll assume for a moment that by God you mean the Judeo-Christian God: God warned Noah of a worldwide natural disaster to come in A.M. 1656 and gave him plans and several decades to build a 3-story barge to carry specimens of each kind of animal safely through this disaster. After the barge landed, God told Noah who was in charge of the animals: "Into your hand they are now given." (Genesis 9:2 [jw.org]) So becoming good stewards of wildlife by no means contravenes what God expects of His followers.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Yes, lets use the ridiculous impossible example of Noah. And lets no forget that God made that disaster and killed million of innocent children.
          Well, not really becasue it didn't happen.

          • And lets no forget that God made that disaster and killed million of innocent children.

            God waited for all the other righteous people to have passed away before sending the flood. It occurred very soon after Noah's grandfather Methuselah and father Lamech had already died due to other causes. (Genesis 5:25-31) It's not in God's nature to destroy righteous people along with the wicked. --Genesis 18:22-33.

            Well, not really becasue it didn't happen.

            Han didn't really shoot first, Darth Vader wasn't really Luke's father, Pinocchio wasn't brought to life by the Blue Fairy, and women with sirenomelia can't really sing underwater. Those events

          • by dywolf (2673597)

            if you're gonna belittle something, at least know what you're talking about.

            nowhere in the story does it say he drowned innocent children.

            in fact, the story makes it quite plain that the flood was punishment for wickedness and that only noah and his family were to be spared. the statement implicit in that is that everyone else was found wanting, ie, wicked.

      • If a species has gone extinct in the wild should humans reintroduce them?

        Because they want to.

        who the heck are we to play God

        People who want things.

        What kind of sick fuck doesn't play god every day? Go back to your cave (literally!) and eat your wild grass strains, assuming you can find any.

        • Funny how angry people's posts on /. often are. I don't like in a cave, don't eat grass, and don't give a crap about toads but I think it's our hubris that compels humans to try to do what they perceive as good even though it's a disservice to those toads.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by riT-k0MA (1653217)
      Not strictly [tulane.edu] true.
      The dense vegetation makes it implausible for the frogs to communicate by hand signals alone. Rather it is thought they use a mix of body language and ultrasonic sound over a short distance in order to communicate.
      The Ultrasonic part is only a guess as the middle part of the frogs ear is not air-filled, and the inner part of the ear does not seem to be connected to any outer surface of the frog. This can be tested, but the scientists can't exactly vivisect a critically-endangered animal,
    • These toads are very unusual. The noise of the waterfall makes croking an impractical method of communication. They instead use hand signals to communicate.

      Then why didn't they signal to the authors that they're not actually extinct?

  • This is what happens when dams are built. It doesn't matter if it's meant to prevent flooding or generate electricity. Either way, animals are genocided and humans benefit. Maybe we could use less electricity so we don't need so many damn dams.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You go ahead and use less electricity. I suggest starting with turning off your computer. You're not using it for anything worthwhile anyway.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      This is what happens when dams are built. It doesn't matter if it's meant to prevent flooding or generate electricity. Either way, animals are genocided and humans benefit. Maybe we could use less electricity so we don't need so many damn dams.

      Ya, someone should kill all beavers.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then what do you propose?
      Fossil fuels, which destroy much much more through extraction and use? Or perhaps nuclear fuels? They need to get mined too you know, not to mention the wastes produced by those power plants and I don't mean just the remains of the fuel after it's been expended.

      Solar power? you need to cover very large areas with panels. I have to wonder though, would that affect the clime in any way, since there's a lot of light/energy redirected back in the sky instead of heating the ground?

      Wind p

    • Nature has already made extinct about a million times more species than mankind ever has, or ever will, long before we made an appearance. In fact nature made a damn good effort at finishing us off a couple of times. The difference is we can think about the consequences.

      What we need is a major international effort to preserve the genetic material of as many endangered species as possible, of all sorts, in a genetic bank. When technology advances far enough both in genetics and energy production we can then

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        If you take the humans-are-evil-because-they-wipe-out-species, then wouldn't re-introducing extinct species also be sort of irresponsible under the same philosophy?

        If we could bring back pterodactyls today, would it really be wise? It isnt hard to imagine the devastation to many species that this would cause. Perhaps it is actually immoral to preserve the possibility of that sort of thing happening. Can we trust future humans to only bring back these species when its a good idea to do so? Maybe we shouldn
      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        Yes, let's re-create wave after wave of Chinese Needle Snakes. Did you remember to store the DNA of that special type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat?

        Species go extinct because they're worthless and weak. We are not the planet's keeper.

      • by N!k0N (883435)
        And then some dumbass scientist decides "hey, we can bring back dinosaurs" ...
        not like _THAT_ isn't a bad idea.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      humans benefit

      You don't have to convince me twice. I'm building a dam in my backyard stream tomorrow!

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Your neighbors upstream of you will likely be displeased at the flooding.
        That's why people spend endless money on pools instead.

    • by dywolf (2673597) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:31AM (#41851729)

      Microecosystems are very fragile yes. But they are also not typically that common. that is micro-ecological systems where a species is severely restricted one waterfall, one pool (Devils Hole Pupfish), etc. Such critters are essentially relics, that got super attached to one thing, and that one thing is now cutoff. In essence, they overadapted in the wrong direction, and are thus naturally headed to extinction even if we didn't build the dam (unless the system somehow reverses itself and their small little niche grows once more).

      It's like if a three legged cat in a world of dogs managed to still exist by only living on top of a high butte above the plain...and then an earthquake leveled the butte and now the cats are on the same level as the dogs, and thus now become dogchow.

      • by dywolf (2673597)

        actually i shouldnt say they arent that common. rather they arent that commonly identified, because the "resolution" so to speak required to identify them is typically so small. the bigger a critters range, the easier it is to identify its presence. though on the other hand, frequently these critters also arent distinct species but subspecies. in this case, it was a distinct species, and they wre numerous (TFA says ~17k individuals in a tiny area) prior to the dam. The artical also mentions disease as a fac

      • by Xest (935314)

        "Microecosystems are very fragile yes. But they are also not typically that common."

        This is completely false. In the Cactaceae and Orchidaceae plant families alone there are literally hundreds of such examples I can think of. That's before you start looking at every other plant and animal family going.

        You also can't simply dismiss them as unimportant, some of these small colony species and plants can be essential to the migratory patterns of other animals who have a much wider effect. Let's look at a real l

        • by khallow (566160)

          You can't also simply assume that such species are headed towards extinction regardless, how do you know this?

          Let's use reason for starters.

          First, there's no niche that will remain forever unchanging. So an organism that has evolved for that particular niche has to have an exit or it'll eventually go extinct. Either it moves on to some other environment, or it exchanges genes with compatible organisms in another environment.

          And from looking through a history of invasive species onto Pacific islands, it appears that species which have evolved to compete in a big environment (such as rats in the wilds and towns

          • by Xest (935314)

            I don't think you get how evolution works. It doesn't work rapidly, it works over an extended period of time.

            These toads were fitted to the environment they were in, and no species can change to destruction of their environment overnight.

            If humanity hadn't caused such rapid disruption, the changes to their environment that would force evolution to take hold would happen over a much longer time period.

            I can think of many examples, but let's say rainfall increased in this area leading to greater bodies of wat

            • by khallow (566160)

              I don't think you get how evolution works. It doesn't work rapidly, it works over an extended period of time.

              These toads were fitted to the environment they were in, and no species can change to destruction of their environment overnight.

              But for some organisms, destruction of their environment would require the radical changing say of most of Europe and global human civilization and others it would require a modest alteration of a waterfall.

              4) You say you see no evidence of niche species expanding, and yet that is by definition what must always happen.

              Not by definition.

              If man fucked up some kind of experiment and it drastically altered the ratio of oxygen in the atmosphere for example over the period of mere weeks, we ourselves would not manage to survive

              I disagree. We have a remarkable ability to adapt even over very short time periods. For example, nuclear subs would remain habitable for years. That would be enough time to reestablish a human presence on the surface of Earth. And one can always come up with biological, mechanical, or

              • by Xest (935314)

                "But for some organisms, destruction of their environment would require the radical changing say of most of Europe and global human civilization and others it would require a modest alteration of a waterfall."

                Right, but what's your point? Keep in mind we've whiped out species who spread right across land masses bigger than Europe (e.g. North America). All extinctions still have an effect on the web of life though. A massive asteroid hit could cause just as much damage to humanity in less time than a damn bu

                • by khallow (566160)

                  Right, but what's your point?

                  Well, two points come to mind. First, that extinction of very specialized species in small niches just isn't that big of a deal. And it's going to happen anyway. Second, it really does matter how difficult it is for an extinction to occur. Here, we have a species that will go extinct in the wild again, if their misting system breaks down. Consider that against humanity which could only go extinct under some extreme circumstances, such as a massive asteroid (probably have to be considerably worse than whatev

                  • by Xest (935314)

                    "Well, two points come to mind. First, that extinction of very specialized species in small niches just isn't that big of a deal. And it's going to happen anyway."

                    Right, we've been over this, and it seems you like the other guy don't understand the way evolution works, but also seem to believe you have an ability no one else on earth has yet managed - the ability to determine the outcome of extremely complex chaotic systems.

                    Let's be honest, you don't actually have that ability, so quit saying things that ar

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      Right, we've been over this, and it seems you like the other guy don't understand the way evolution works, but also seem to believe you have an ability no one else on earth has yet managed - the ability to determine the outcome of extremely complex chaotic systems.

                      Frogs depending on survival by actively generated mist? Doesn't sound complex to me. They'll die out again when the mist goes away. Show the model is wrong before continuing to use up my time.

                      And the whole blather about "complex systems" is pure reductionism. It's a "complex system" so your argument must be right.

                      Things treachorous to humans like diseases, viruses and so forth can sit dormant for a long time. Anthrax is one obvious well known example. You assume they need a human host, that's false, how do you think Malaria most commonly spreads? Diseases resistance does quickly return you're right, the problem is you're talking about a population too small to cope with that, and that's kind of the point.

                      They need a host. Any atmospheric oxygen imbalance that kills off humans globally without mechanical assistance, is going to wipe out the non-human hosts. All it takes is a little thinking.

                      An

                    • by Xest (935314)

                      "Frogs depending on survival by actively generated mist? Doesn't sound complex to me. They'll die out again when the mist goes away. Show the model is wrong before continuing to use up my time."

                      Because you've got absolutely no evidence that there was any reason the mist would magically just go away. The mist will have been generated by the features of the environment, a waterfall or whatever. What makes you think that without mans intervention and destruction of the habitat that a waterfall was going to mag

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      Because you've got absolutely no evidence that there was any reason the mist would magically just go away.

                      Sure, I do. The mist is generated by man-made equipment not a natural waterfall. Everything made by man eventually fails. And stuff that requires considerable active maintenance from humans? That'll fail even faster.

                      The mist will have been generated by the features of the environment, a waterfall or whatever. What makes you think that without mans intervention and destruction of the habitat that a waterfall was going to magically ping out of existence in the near future?

                      Human interference is just as natural as a waterfall drying up. And yes, sooner or later that waterfall would have "pinged out of existence" or some other accident come along and wipe those frogs out. What makes preservation of this species useful? You seem to indicate that it'll save a few kilo

                    • by Xest (935314)

                      "Sure, I do. The mist is generated by man-made equipment not a natural waterfall. Everything made by man eventually fails. And stuff that requires considerable active maintenance from humans? That'll fail even faster."

                      WTF? You've just reached the point now where you've stopped making any sense at all. The made made mist came along after the species had already been whiped out as a replacement for the natural mist that kept them alive before tey were whiped out. At least it's clear now why you have the view

    • You left out one overwhelming benefit. If your rafting party is ever raped by crazed , inbred rednecks, you can use a damn lake to cover up the evidence.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they have to create an "artificial" misting system?

    Just sayin....

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      If they have to create an "artificial" misting system?
      When humans go away, the toads will die, so I would say that still counts as "in captivity". If they want them to survive in the wild, they should find another similar environment and release them there. Of course, transporting species has historically led to bad consequences, so maybe it is best that we let nature take its course and let the species die out or adapt to its new dry surroundings (or move upstream).
  • If the Zoo has a captive group of these toads then there not extinct, Exctinction:

    extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms (taxon), normally a species.

    Indangered yes, but not extinct.

    • Indangered yes

      "Endangered," or "in danger," but not "indangered" :)

      • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        My bad! either way, not extinct.
        • by dywolf (2673597)

          RTFA: "extinct int he wild"

          • RTFA: "extinct int he wild"

            I think that's where I struggle as, to me, that's not possible - something is either extinct or not. Attempting to qualify extinction negates the meaning of extinction, to my understanding of term.

            To me, it's a bit like saying "after surgery, he recovered from the fatal gunshot."

            • by Smauler (915644)

              It's an official IUCN category, so it seems you've lost the fight.

              Anyway, people have been referring to things being extinct in certain areas for ages. This [wikipedia.org] is a list of animals extinct from the UK.

              • It's an official IUCN category

                Interesting - thanks!

                so it seems you've lost the fight.

                Perhaps more "been given some helpful information" — are conversations really fights?!

                • by hesiod (111176)

                  Perhaps more "been given some helpful information" — are conversations really fights?!

                  Them's fightin' words, buddy!

        • by N!k0N (883435)
          The phrase "in the wild" is key here. Your homework assignment is to figure out why.
          • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
            Your home work is to read titles.

            Artificial Misting System Allows Reintroduction of Extinct Toad.

            Where in that title does it say wild? It should say

            Artifical Misting System Allows Reintroduction of Endangered Toad

            By using the word Extinct in the title the post to follow implies that regardless of location the toad is exinct.

    • by Imrik (148191)

      The wording used in the article (and the summary for that matter) is "extinct in the wild." The captive population would therefore not count. Whether the reintroduced population would count is debatable though.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)
        Thats like calling you dead because you are dead in the future. Sometimes the act of using qualifying terminology undoes the terminology itself.
        • No, this is like calling you dead because the only reason why you are still breathing is that you are hanging on a life support machine.

          • Not really. Someone who is on a life support machine isn't necessarily really alive. (You can have no appreciable brain activity and still be made to breathe, a la Terri Schiavo.) The frogs, on the other hand, are every bit as "not extinct" as they would be if they were placed anywhere else. Extinct means there are no examples of the species left. I assume the frogs would be extinct at some point if you put them back without the artificial misting in place, but they're not extinct now.
            • by Rockoon (1252108)

              Not really. Someone who is on a life support machine isn't necessarily really alive.

              If a single microbe or spore of anything biological were ever to be found on mars, the headlines would in fact read "LIFE FOUND ON MARS!" complete with an exclamation point. Just saying...

  • Extinct again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ByteSlicer (735276) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:57AM (#41851559)
    I hope they keep a few captive, because otherwise they will go extinct again the first time that artificial mist breaks down (things tend to break in time, especially in the tropics).

    Actually, a bit of googling told me this happened before in 2003 [nhm.ac.uk].
  • When environments are artificially sustained, we no longer call them "wild".

    Unless this is some twist on humans being considered as just part of nature.

    But that kind of removes the utility of the word, no?

    At best this is an unbounded zoo in that without maintenance by the zoo keepers the frogs would just die off. Now if they had recreated a sustainable environment and left the frogs there (as opposed to having to continue to induce an environment) then one might be able to say they had been reintroduced 'i

  • I understand the desire to re-establish the species in the wild, but why put them back there? There must be other environments where they would get the misting naturally. Right?
  • Seriously? Artificial misting systems for a toad? How many children died of hunger last year, 10 million?
    • If this breeding program works, we can feed them the toads.

      • by cellocgw (617879)

        Seriously? Artificial misting systems for a toad? How many children died of hunger last year, 10 million?

          If this breeding program works, we can feed them the toads.

        You left out "to." Should read "...we can feed them *to* the toads." Much better outcome all around.

        PS OK I give up: how the heck do I close a "quote" tag?" less-than,backslash,quote fails.

      • posting to undo moderation

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