Frog benefits for the natural world and humans:
–Predators and prey in the ecosystem
Frogs and toads are right in the middle of the food chain and provide a very efficient transfer of solar energy. (See the end of Frog and Toad Basics) They play an important role in consuming insects and are an important food source for birds, snakes, and other animals throughout the food web.
They help control insects that may be agricultural pests or carry diseases such as West Nile virus
Frogs have been used extensively in medical research, and many Nobel prizes in medicine and physiology have involved frog studies.
–Education and research
The chemical compounds found in the skin secretions of frogs and toads are being studied for their human benefits – everything from non-addictive pain killers to cancer cures. Frogs have been an important part of biology education for centuries, and the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) is the modern day “lab rat.”
Frogs play an important role in the world’s culture:
- A symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt
- Bringer of good luck in Japan
- The Rain God for some Native Americans
- A Princess looking for her Prince
- The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
- And, of course, Kermit the Frog
Serve as indicators of environmental health
–Canary in the Coal Mine?
Do frog declines and deformities indicate that the environment is in big trouble? The answer is “maybe.” Frog and toad problems may be caused by other factors besides the environment. However, if the environment that frogs need is missing or compromised, their populations will definitely show the effects.
–The Importance of the Baseline
We cannot determine that frog populations are changing, or the timing of mating is different, or invasive species have shown up unless we have a baseline of what is normal now. That is why an organization like FrogWatch USA™ is so important. You can become a citizen scientist and help to establish the frog and toad baseline in Arkansas. Go to FrogWatch USA™ to learn more and then check out the schedule to find training near you.