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Xenopus in the City of Angels

25 July 2023

Xenopus from LA with stars in their eyes

Among all the glitz and glam of life in LA, there is an invasion of African clawed frogs that has made its way into many of the waterways and drainages in the area. I was very lucky to meet up with Greg Pauly from the LA County Museum. Greg has his own passion for Xenopus with a citizen science project to determine how diverse their predators are (see here). Greg is a fountain of knowledge about all things wild and urban in LA, so of course he was the perfect guide for collecting clawed frogs. Greg knew of many sites to catch frogs in LA, and was happy to get his seine net out and hit some of LA's most salubrious spots to pull some specimens out of the water. 

Greg took us to two sites in the LA area. The first (pictured above) was inside a park where Greg had seined animals before. We were joined for the day by Estella and Taylor from the LA County Museum who were both great frog wranglers once we got the seine net in.

We collected a bunch of tadpoles and ~10 adults from this small pond connected to the road sewer system. The water was really fowl and black. The frogs and tadpoles seemed to love it!


After we got over the stench of our equipment at the first site, we were quite unprepared to find something much much worse. The second site was really bad. Above you can see how it looked after we had finished seining out the many plastic bags, condoms, masks and other unidentified matter from this road sewer. Note the grey-brown colour of the water - for those not in the know, this is the colour of raw sewage. Once again, we caught a bunch of tadpoles and around 20 adults from this site. They appeared not to share our concerns about the water they lived in and instead appeared to be thriving there, and it was even possible to see the stars in their eyes...

Thanks so much to Greg, Estella and Taylor for making this trip to LA so successful!

  Frogs  Lab  Xenopus
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