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:

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.”

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.