Five Days Only – Amazon

Here’s a great opportunity to support the Saving Nature Now – Green Team program that empowers our youth to take actions that directly help nature and encourage sustainable living.

Normally when you purchase from Amazon through the smile portal, we get a 1/2% donation from them (at no cost to you).  But for the next 5 days, they are bumping up the donation massively!

Through Nov 2, AmazonSmile is donating 5% (ten times the usual amount) to Saving Nature Now when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/46-3678115. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

If you will be making purchases for the holidays, why not get them in the next couple of days and help Saving Nature Now and the Green Team program while you are at it.

You can learn more about The Green Team here: http://savingnaturenow.org/greenteam/



Frog Calendars Available

2019 Calendar Monthly ExampleAbout a fourth of the 2019 Frog Calendars leaped out of here in the first two weeks.  If you want one or more for holiday gift giving, you need to get them now before they are gone.

You can get them at this link: http://arkansasfrogsandtoads.org/frogs-toads-calendar/

The calendar contains images of common Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana frogs and toads taken by subscribers to The Frog Watcher email newsletter (free).  You can sign up for the newsletter HERE.


Frog Fact check

As for the frog images: No one I know would look at those images and think someone was trying to make you believe that frogs don crowns in the wild.  Of course, the images are made up to tie in with the parts of the article that portray frogs as a cultural treasure.  Perhaps someone kissed a prince who turned into a frog!  Also, these frogs are the species Banded Bullfrog, Kaloula pulchra.  They are so named because of the broad white stripes running down each side of their bodies.

Let me go through this article paragraph by paragraph to point out the FACTS so we aren’t misled into thinking the article is FAKE.

Paragraph 1: The Dusky Gopher Frog is listed in the top 100 most endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London.  The description of its behavior is consistent with The Frogs and Toads of North America by Lang Elliott, et al.

Paragraph 2: The referenced pond in Mississippi is in a 10 km2 area in Harrison County.  The case of Weyerhaeuser Co. vs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the first case heard by the Supreme Court on October 1st to begin its new session.  USFWS is making the case that additional land needs to be protected outside the limits of the pond.  Weyerhaeuser is arguing that frogs shouldn’t stop timbering.

Paragraph 3: According to the IUCN, 41% of amphibians are currently threatened with extinction.  The normal background rate of extinction is to lose from 1 to 10 species every ten years per million species.  Since there are about 5,000 frog and toad species (Anura), we should expect to lose one species every 200 to 2,000 years.  According to IUCN data published in 2006, 32 frog species had gone extinct since 1980 and 387 additional species were listed as Critically Endangered.  The 32 number is somewhere between 250 and 2,500 times the normal extinction rate for frogs and toads.  The “Chytrid” fungus has been around for a long time but was kept in check in local environments.

Paragraph 4: Moving frogs around the world has essentially turned the Chytrid fungus into an invasive species for frogs and toads in other localities.  According to Smithsonian Magazine, African Clawed Frogs were used in pregnancy tests and could be a vector in spreading the Chytrid fungus.  Read about it here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/doctors-used-to-use-live-african-frogs-as-pregnancy-tests-64279275/

Paragraph 5: Almost all our Bullfrogs used for frog leg dinners are imported.  Bullfrogs are immune to the effects of the Chytrid fungus but carry it into new habitats.

Paragraph 6: This seems like common knowledge to me and is certainly poetic.  Matsuo Basho wrote this haiku poem (5-7-5) in the 1600s – “furu ike ya, kawazu tobi komu, mizu no oto” which I like to translate as “Peaceful, ancient pond; a young frog leaps into it; the splash fades away.”  When I conduct frog workshops, almost everyone raises their hand when I ask who has dissected a frog in high school.

Paragraph 7: Frogs are predators and prey.  They eat small rodents and birds, mosquito larvae, lots of insects, and even other frogs – essentially anything live that can fit into their mouths.  They are also prey for big birds, snakes, and mammals.

Paragraph 8: Frogs have been called an indicator species like the canary in the coal mine.  Since they have both aquatic and terrestrial life stages, they are susceptible to poor quality habitat in water and on land.  They absorb moisture and oxygen through their porous skin.  Any environmental toxins will be seen in frog and toad populations before human populations which is why their high extinction rate should be a concern to all of us.  As for the connection to rain, Green Tree Frogs have been nicknamed “Bell frogs” indicating that rain is on its way.  The peeping Spring Peepers are called the harbingers of spring.

Paragraph 9: Kermit the Frog has always been one of my favorite kid’s characters.  I’m not at all familiar with “Pepe” the frog.  Wikipedia has an extensive history of the Pepe mime if you are interested.  There was no need to mention Pepe in this factual article about frogs and extinction.

Paragraph 10: Same comment here as for Pepe above.

Paragraph 11: This paragraph ties back in to Paragraph 3.  The fact that frogs and toads have been around for more then 200 million years doesn’t insure their survival.  Land dinosaurs were around for almost 200 million years before habitat loss wiped them out.

Paragraph 12: In fact, the Golden Toad has not been seen in the cloud forest since the 1980s.  People still book ecological tours around the world, but how long will that last when all the species we want to observe are extinct?  The Gastric brooding frog is just one example of scores of adaptations that animals and plants have made to accommodate their habitats.  One thing they can’t adapt to is total loss of habitat.

Paragraph 13: Zoos do, in fact, take care of lots of endangered species.  You can read about their efforts here under the title, “Field Conservation.”  https://www.aza.org/field-conservation

Paragraph 14:  Besides frogs and toads being an important thread of the biodiversity fabric, they are fun, non-threatening, and a great gateway to get children outside and exploring again.  The world would be a lot more sterile for us if there were no frogs singing us to sleep and birds waking us up.



Frogs and Toads in Winter

Frogs and Toads Surviving the Winter

Frogs and toads create winter homes called hibernaculums. While in their retreats, their metabolisms slow down to the bare minimum so they can survive the winter with stored energy only.  There are three main strategies that frogs and toads use to survive freezing winter temperatures:

  • An Underground Shelter – Around here the ground temperature below the frost line is a toasty 55 to 60 degrees.  All the toads and a few frogs spend the winter in an underground burrow where there is no chance that they will freeze.  Their bodily functions slow down considerably, but don’t stop.  Frogs that use this strategy include the Crawfish Frog.
  • A Watery Deep Sleep – Did you know that water density increases as it gets colder – that is, down to a point.  The most dense water occurs at about 39 degrees fahrenheit.  Colder than that water becomes less dense.  So during the winter, the water at the bottom of a pond will be no colder than 39 degrees because the less dense, colder water will not sink as low.  That bottom water is just right for a long winter nap for the aquatic frogs – Bullfrog, Leopard Frog, Pickerel Frog, and Green Frog.  They lay on the bottom (not under the mud) in a state of torpor and absorb oxygen through their skin from the water.
  • Roughing it Topside – Frogs can get out of the wind, but can’t avoid the cold if they stay topside during the winter.  All the tree frogs find crevices in rocks and tree trunks and under leaf piles to stay protected.  They are particularly cold-hardy by shutting down almost completely.  If you found one of them during the winter, you would think they were dead.  Spring Peepers create a kind of internal “anti-freeze” that keeps them from freezing.  Wood Frogs do the same thing and are the only frogs that can survive north of the Arctic Circle.

What can you do to help frogs and toads in the winter?

  • During your Fall yard cleanup, leave a few leaf piles in the corners.  They will not only help over-wintering tree frogs, but lots of other creatures will also appreciate it.
  • If you have a pond on your property or intend to build one, try to make it deep enough so that it doesn’t freeze solid during the winter (18″ or more in the middle).
  • Do a search online for toad houses, abodes, or hibernaculums.  It can be as simple as a two-foot long piece of 4″ plastic pipe sunk into the ground on a 30 degree angle and filled with sand and composted leaves.  The opening should be about 1/2 exposed.

World Wetlands Day – February 25th

Wood Frog

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) enjoying an early spring swim.

Saturday, Feb 25th is World Wetlands Day. Wetlands support a wide diversity of life including 43% of rare species. They reduce downstream flooding by storing runoff. They filter sediment and pollutants. They recharge groundwater supplies and provide recreational opportunities. And, of course, frogs and toads love them. Arkansas is blessed with these wetlands – ponds, vernal pools, swamps, non-tidal marshes, ditches, and urban wetlands.

 


The Incredible Frogs of Borneo

harlequin flying frog

Harlequin Flying Frog – photo by Brad Josephs

Join Brad Josephs for a visual feast of the beautiful frogs of Borneo.  This article includes recordings of some of the frogs and an excellent Youtube that Brad put together.

If you love these little critters, you’ve got to see this wonderful tour.

See the article at: http://www.alaskabearsandwolves.com/watch-the-incredible-frogs-of-borneo/


Save Land and Save Frogs with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

by Sim Barrow

It is just after sunset as I make my way through the dense grass and shallow pools at Wilson Springs Preserve in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The thunderstorms from earlier in the day have subsided, and the horizon glows with the remaining light of the day.  With clipboard and pencil in hand, I stop at the edge of an embankment and wait. After a few minutes, the relative quiet is interrupted by a chorus of leopard frogs, American toads and spring peepers.  These are the sounds that drew me to the site, and are the reason for my evening visit to the Preserve.

Frog and toad activity at Wilson Springs Preserve is no small matter for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. Protecting wildlife habitat is one of our highest priorities in our work to conserve the natural landscapes of our region.  Whether through conservation easements or by receiving land as a donation, we ensure that those lands will continue to serve as a place for wildlife forever, even as the human population grows.

Of course, seeing the land preserved is just the beginning. With each conserved property we commit to the ongoing stewardship of the land, which includes biomonitoring, or the tracking of native plant and animal species like frogs and toads. The information we gain from biomonitoring is used to inform land management practices like restoration activities and invasive plant removal. It also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the habitat. Because frogs and toads are such great indicator species, it makes sense for the land trust to specifically monitor for them.

For this reason, we are excited to integrate the FrogWatch USA frog monitoring program into our biomonitoring plan.  Citizen-science programs are an excellent way to engage with the community and help people enjoy and appreciate the outdoors. It is also a helpful resource for nonprofits like the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust that have limited staff capacity.  We look forward to recruiting and training new FrogWatch volunteers in 2017 to help us monitor frogs and toads on some of our properties.  It’s also a great opportunity for current volunteers to explore new areas and support local conservation efforts.

Join me and the other NWA Chapter Coordinators this February 25 from 1pm-6pm for the first FrogWatch training workshop of the year. The workshop will be held at the Historic Ozark Mountain Smokehouse (1725 Smokehouse Trail Fayetteville, AR 72701). There will be a special trip to our Wilson Springs Preserve following the workshop, where we will practice the skills taught in the training. We may even hear crawfish frogs making their characteristic “snoring” sound! Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org to register for the training.

With your help, we can all protect habitat for frogs and toads in Northwest Arkansas. Thank you, volunteers, for your commitment to frog and toad conservation!