Dusky Gopher Frog Research Propels forward!
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Dusky Gopher Frog Research Propels forward!

The dusky gopher frog program has been running for 20 years at the Memphis Zoo. Our research team works diligently to study and breed dusky gopher frogs at the zoo. They work with a team that oversees the wild population in south Mississippi to determine the best times to release tadpoles and froglets into the wild to begin developing and expand the wild population.

The gopher frogs at the Memphis Zoo begin laying eggs in March and develop into froglets by June. Our teams go down to the ponds in Ward Bayou in south Mississippi multiple times during the summer months to release tadpoles and froglets into the ponds. When they are down there, researchers also evaluate the wild population using a perimeter fence system. This system allows for researchers to scan the frogs for the tags that are placed in their leg at the time of release. This helps the team determine where these frogs came from and whether they are frogs bred at the Memphis Zoo or naturally born frogs in the wild.

The project has recently received grant funding to support the continued success of this initiative. Of 55 applicants, Memphis Zoo is one of 13 projects chosen to receive funding through the Conservation Grant Fund from AZA in 2021. The grant funding allows us to use this window of time now that the previous captive released frogs are adults and naturally breeding on their own.

In 2021, the team saw evidence of the first natural breeding of the dusky gopher frogs in the ponds in Ward Bayou. This is a major success for the project! Each year the team works to ensure a stable population is being built at these ponds. The ultimate goal of this program was to establish a new population of gopher frogs in the wild using the captive-bred individuals. We hope that our zoo family and community will join us and celebrate the success of this project! Together we have successfully saved this species. It would not have been possible without our community’s support!

Posted by Jessica Faulk at 10:00 AM