Where have the frogs gone?

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Last Wednesday – which many of your remember due to the heavy rain, flooded roads and overflowing water barrels – I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Florida Native Plant Society’s monthly meeting held at the Pinellas Extension Center in Largo. As I left the building, an orchestra of frog calls filled the damp night. The roar was almost deafening and oh so beautiful. In the warm humid evening I was catapulted back to my childhood  - listening to frogs “croak” and watching fireflies dance - a treat that fewer and fewer children will experience

In April, PBS aired an incredible segment entitled “Frogs: The Thin Green Line” where viewers learned of the dramatic and extensive decline of the species since the 1950’s. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes ... tion/4763/

More than one third of frog species are believed to be threatened with extinction and more than 120 species are suspected to be extinct since the 1980’s. Among these species are the golden toad of Costa Rica and the Gastric-brooding frogs of Australia

Habitat loss is a significant cause of frog population decline, as are pollutants, climate change, the introduction of non-indigenous predators/competitors, and emerging infectious diseases including chytridiomycosis. Many environmental scientists believe that amphibians, including frogs, are excellent biological indicators of broader ecosystem health because of their intermediate position in food webs, permeable skins, and typically biphasic life (aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults).

Zoos and aquariums around the world named 2008 the Year of the Frog, to draw attention to the conservation issues.

So if you are lucky enough to hear these threatened amphibians sing to you – take the time to really listen and thank them by doing your part to preserve their world for future wonders of the summer nights.

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