Global Frog Decline

I've written on this topic before - but feel it's worth a revisit after I came across a graceful tree frog today.

Usually nocturnal, so seldom seen moving around during the heat of the day it gave me pause. Maybe it had been disturbed by a hunting animal (my guess would be a snake), or maybe it was compelled to re-locate thanks to the numerous green ants foraging around the elephant ear plant it was on. Possibly it had simply picked the wrong spot to snooze in and was getting a grilling from the sun ... who can say?.

Thing is though that as I was considering all of this I was struck by just how few frogs we've been seeing. And the more I thought about it the more I realised that in actuality, over the last decade or so that I have been observing frogs in N.Qld; their numbers have reduced dramatically.

Perhaps some sort of tipping point has been reached?

The first major review of Australian frogs was published in 1961 and listed 94 species. In the subsequent *45 years of research (*quote from 2006) that figure has more than doubled. Sadly, for the past 20 years there has also been an attrition which has now become extremely serious. This phenomenon has been called “declining frog populations”.

Frogs are sensitive to aquatic environmental pollution and it is mainly for this reason that their demise has attracted considerable concern. Frogs lay naked, unprotected eggs in fresh water. The eggs and tadpoles are therefore exposed to aquatic pollutants which either interferes with growth processes (thus causing abnormalities), or are so toxic that they will kill them. ^

As you may or may not be aware - frogs (and other amphibians) are true indicator species. Meaning their health or lack thereof is like an ecological barometer. Healthy environments = healthy frog populations. The very fact that these animals are still in decline should be worrying the living hell out of all of us.

It should be front page news (unfortunately there's no space left for news in the news, what with all those endless, daft bloody master chef/rules/reality clownathons).

So let me appeal to our most over-riding instinct: Self-preservation.