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  • Sienna Zou

How Water Affects the Life of Frogs

Frog populations have been rapidly declining across the world. Each year, frogs lose 3.79 percent of their population. A global map of threatened species highlights where the most vulnerable and endangered frog species are concentrated. There are now threatened hotspots on every continent, with particularly alarming increases in California.


The main reason for the frog population decline? Lack of water.


First, frogs are in danger of going extinct due to habitat loss. Most frogs live in aquatic and swampy habitats since their skin requires freshwater. Frogs also need water to lay eggs. In California, however, water sources are beginning to dry up. According to the California Department of Water Resources, dry conditions have been off and on for years with records from previous geological ages showing significant dry periods going back more than 1000 years. Some recent historical droughts were from 2007-2009, 2012-2016, and 2020-2022. Because of the drought, California has been getting less water than it needs. This is a huge problem for frog species because they need water to live and breed. The worsening drought is causing creeks, ponds, and wells to run dry across the state, which in turn is killing off animals like frogs.


Water pollution makes the situation even worse. Frogs breathe and drink through their porous skin. Because of this, frogs are vulnerable to chemicals and acid rain that may make their way into the water. Water is vital, especially during breeding season. Frog eggs and tadpoles are even more sensitive than adult frogs as they can be exposed to pollution in the water. These chemicals are usually from various pesticides, sewage, or industry. Some research shows that the overall effect of pollutant exposure was a medium decrease in amphibian survival and mass and a large increase in abnormality frequency. This translates to a 14.3% decrease in survival, a 7.5% decrease in mass, and a 535% increase in abnormality frequency across all studies. For example, the chemicals found in pesticides can cause frogs to grow extra limbs or develop brain problems. The pollution in the water won’t necessarily kill the frogs, but it could weaken the population so much that the next drought or infection that comes along might wipe out a whole species.


A world without amphibians would be devastating since amphibians are a keystone species of many ecosystems—when they disappear, the environment changes dramatically. Frogs are also very skilled at catching pests, so if they go extinct, insects might start overpopulating, making an unbalanced ecosystem. For example, the mosquito population could explode, causing more outbreaks for diseases like malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus.


Some ways you can help protect frogs from extinction include educating yourself, protecting the environment, supporting conservation, saving frogs that fall into your pool, and making your yard amphibian-friendly. Education is beneficial because it’s useful to know the threats frogs face. Supporting conservation means conservation acts could be more successful. Saving frogs from your pool could also save them from temperature shock. Making your lawn frog-friendly by adding a frog pond and refraining from using pesticides can help frogs when they desperately need a home.


Frogs are only barely surviving the harsh conditions of drought and water pollution. If we don’t try to save them, they could disappear by 2035. Luckily, California has faced a very rainy season this winter and spring, which has led to record-breaking snowpack, nearly full reservoirs, and overflowing watersheds. Hopefully, the frog population can start to increase!


Citations:


AmphibiaWeb: Worldwide Amphibian Declines. https://amphibiaweb.org/declines/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


“An Alarming Stat about Frogs May Lead Them to Extinction by 2035— Study.” Inverse, 5 July 2020, https://www.inverse.com/culture/frog-legs-extinction.


“Climate Change: How Frogs Could Vanish from Ponds.” BBC News, 10 May 2019. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48219217.


Egea-Serrano, Andrés, et al. “Understanding of the Impact of Chemicals on Amphibians: A Meta-Analytic Review.” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 2, no. 7, July 2012, pp. 1382–97. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.249.


Exploratorium: Frogs: The Amazing, Adaptable Frog / Page 6 of 6. https://annex.exploratorium.edu/frogs/mainstory/frogstory6.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Human Impact on Amphibians | EARTH 103: Earth in the Future. https://www.e-education.psu.edu/earth103/node/960. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Larson, Nina. Climate Change Spurring Frog Extinctions: Conservationists. https://phys.org/news/2020-12-climate-spurring-frog-extinctions-conservationists.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2023.


Ramirez, Rachel. “Record Snowpack, Nearly Full Reservoirs: Here’s the State of California’s Drought after an Epic Winter.” CNN, 23 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/23/us/atmospheric-river-winter-california-drought-climate/index.html.


Resnick, Brian. “What We Lose When We Lose the World’s Frogs.” Vox, 14 Oct. 2016, https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/10/14/13147056/amphibian-extinction-frog-bd.

2 comentarios


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