Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amphibians–they’re wet, cool, and in need of our help

Current estimates state that 1/3 of all amphibian species worldwide are threatened with extinction.  Now, a recent study released by the USGS in the scientific journal PLOS One reported that U.S. amphibian species are declining at a surprising rate.  Scientists analyzed 9 years of data from 34 sites and 48 eyes on youspecies to determine that amphibian populations are declining at an average rate of 3.7% per year from 2002 to 2011.  At that rate, scientists estimate that we could see amphibians disappearing from half of their current habitats within 20 years.   Here’s a surprise – declines are occurring even on lands that are specifically set aside for conservation, such as national parks.   Scientists hypothesize that the causes of these declines could include land use change, global climate change, disease, or contaminants. 

So what’s a greenmomster to do?  In previous posts, we’ve discussed the Japanese giant salamanderfrog life cycles and threats, the Panamanian Golden Frog, and a new frog species found in NYC.   But let’s take another look at ways we can protect frogs in our own backyards: 

  • Locally, be sure to protect frog habitat; the areas where frogs live are often sensitive areas that affect the quality of water.  Is there a new road or housing project being put into your neighborhood?  Have the builders checked for the presence of frogs and other amphibians.
  • Join Frogwatch USA and help with citizen science to keep track of local frogs. 
  • Got a lawn?  Check out the FWS Homeowner’s Guide to Protecting Frogs – it’s a great guide for reducing use of pesticides and herbicides that can harm frogs. 
  • Consider buying organically grown produce to reduce contamination by pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
  • Globally, support organizations involved in frog protection – Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (for frogs in Panama), Amphibian Ark, or you can even adopt a frog at the World Wildlife Fund.

Conservation efforts of this size cost money, but this is a problem we can help address.  Did you know that, according to the National Retail Federation, the average American spent $80 on Halloween, totaling nearly $8 billion in 2012?  And that in 2010 American consumers were estimated to have spent over $20 billion on video games?  Why not resolve to spend a little less on entertainment, and a little more on our kids’ future environment?

 

Sources: 

Adams MJ, Miller DAW, Muths E, Corn PS, Grant EHC, et al. (2013) Trends in Amphibian Occupancy in the United States. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64347. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064347

USGS Newsroom.  5/22/2013.  “USGS Study Confirms U.S. Amphibian Populations Declining at Precipitous Rates”  Accessed 5/29/2013, http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3597

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