The Titicaca Water Frog is the largest fully aquatic frog in the world. This unique species is endemic to Titicaca Lake, located at an altitude of 3,810 meters between Bolivia and Peru. This frog species is Critically Endangered because of an observed, severe population decline due to pollution, emerging diseases such as Chytridium, the introduction of exotic species, and overharvesting.
Although small die-offs of the species have occurred in prior years, in the beginning of 2015 in just a couple of days, massive mortalities of the species were observed, in an area of more than 500 km2.
The population decline of all aquatic organisms in the lake suggests that water pollution and polluted sediments are the causes of these massive die-offs. This project wishes to address the problems with this species however by understanding the impact of the last mortality events in the affected area of Titicaca Lake.
The project will achieve this goal by investigating possible water contaminants, sediment pollutants, and chytrid fungus diseases.
Another aspect of the project is the future reintroduction of the Titicaca water frog. The project will meet this goal by closely monitoring frog populations at different areas of the lake, as well as improving and expanding the existing captive breeding programme created in Bolivia.
The project aims to:
Clarify information about the causes of death for the frogs during the die-off;
Establish a protocol for monitoring the lake's condition;
Evaluate the die-off event's impacts on the Titicaca water frog population;
Further, in order to support outreach and dissemination of results, the project focuses on connecting main stakeholders such as decision makers, local communities, municipal authorities, and the general public;
Finally the project aims to ensure a secure population of the Titicaca Water Frog has been established in captivity while longer-term wild population monitoring is in place.