Tag Archives: climate change

Biodiversity challenge – Mallorcan midwife toad

Midwife crisis

No strings attached,
She said.
Now see how
Sticky shackles
Cramp his style
More than a tad.
Her long-term plan
Already hatched;
Not so, his heavy load.
Her fate, the open road,
No fixed abode,
A rolling toad;
Her mate, a little flat.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Species profile: Mallorcan midwife toad

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

Found only on the island of that name, the Mallorcan midwife toad was believed to have gone extinct 2000 years ago until several populations were discovered in remote mountain brooks in 1980. Like others in its genus, this toad has an unusual breeding strategy in that the females fight over the males, and the males carry the developing eggs, wrapped around their ankles in strings, until the tadpoles emerge. This declining species is down to around 500 breeding pairs and faces numerous threats to its survival. These include introduced predators like the viperine snake, and habitat loss resulting from pressure on water resources due to the growing numbers of tourists visiting the island.

Biodiversity challenge – Cave squeaker

1962: Bittersweet sixteen

Amphibian freak
Playing hide and seek
On a mountain peak
In Mozambique.
Cave-dwelling clique
Oozing frog mystique,
On a losing streak
Up troglodyte creek.
Signal weak,
Prognosis bleak.
No audible squeak,
Just a silent shriek.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Cave squeaker

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The only record of the cave squeaker is from 1962, when 16 frogs were collected from caves and sinkholes high in the Chimanimani Mountains on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Virtually nothing is known about the behaviour of this mysterious and elusive species or how it has adapted to its cave habitat. Other squeaker frog species undergo a complete metamorphosis from embryo to froglet without leaving the eggs, which are laid out of water in a damp location. In over 50 years of searching, scientists have failed to find a single cave squeaker, but the frog is small, inconspicuous and clearly very rare, so some hope of relocating it still remains. As a montane species, its long-term survival could be jeopardised by climate change.

Biodiversity challenge – Iberian lynx

Missing lynx

Who trashed the habitat?
Who squashed the rabbit hat?
Who smashed the thermostat?
Who signed the exeat?
Where’s the world’s rarest cat?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Iberian lynx

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

There may be as few as 170 Iberian lynx surviving in the wild, confined to two isolated and shrinking breeding populations in the Andalucia region of southern Spain. The devastation of its traditional Mediterranean scrubland (maquis) habitat due to infrastructure development and the expansion of agriculture and commercial forestry, combined with a scarcity of rabbits, its chief prey, caused by disease and the insidious effects of climate change, have brought the species perilously close to the exit door. Illegal hunting, accidental poisoning and road fatalities are also taking their toll on the remaining population. More info