When I reflect on the threatening processes that impact frogs, I can’t help but want to share this information, to inform the public and create awareness around the ever increasing necessity to protect and care for our frog fauna.
So today, being Rachel Carson Day, I thought it was fitting to write my new quick fix frog blog about frogs and pesticides.
Here are some quick facts about frogs and pesticides:
• Pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc...) are toxic chemicals that generally undergo little to no testing on frogs prior to their being approved for use. Unfortunately, many end up in waterways, where frogs live and breed.
• Frogs have permeable skin, which means they are highly susceptible to absorbing chemicals within the environment – both on land and in water.
• Tadpoles appear to be more sensitive than adults.
• Species differ in their sensitivity to pesticides.
• Pesticides used in gardens and agricultural systems can be transported by wind and contaminate pristine environments and thus can impact local frog populations as well as their food source.
• Hermaphrodite frogs (males grow female sex organs) have been found in urban, suburban and agricultural ponds. This is believed to be due to contaminants found in the water such as pesticides, flame retardants, and chemicals used to give fragrance to soap and cosmetics.
• The insecticide endosulfan at low levels found in the environment can be deadly for tadpoles.
• Unfortunately, the hazardous nature of the deadly chytrid fungus affecting frog populations worldwide, could be made worse by the immune suppression produced by pesticide mixtures.
• What to do: It’s pretty simple – DON’T USE PESTICIDES at home and collectively we need to pressure corporations to substantially reduce pesticide use and ban those pesticides, such as endosulfan, found highly toxic to frogs.
Rachel Carson designated half of her own land in Maryland to be kept wild for the birds and frogs. She would no doubt be distressed by the continuing pesticide threats to frogs and other amphibians.
Sources and further reading:
Looking for a nature fix this weekend, and don't want to travel out of Melbourne... look no further than the lovely Wattle Park in Burwood. You will find it off Riversdale Road in Burwood. This is a Parks Victoria managed park which has lots of lovely remnant bushland to roam and explore with the kids.
There are a range of areas to explore, including the large old, scattered remnant trees and stags, many of which have hollows. You will surely come across the resident and rowdy flock of rainbow lorikeets coming in and out of the hollows. Keep your eyes out for feeding pairs of eastern rosellas, often on the ground. There is a drainage line/creek running through the park and a couple of wetland areas, always good for listening for frogs and spotting some waterfowl or ducks.
You will find many fallen logs which are great fun for balancing on or looking around and under for bugs. There are also lots of natural shelters and cubbies around the reserve, which are fun to contribute to and play in.
There are toilets, a great playground, complete with some old trams the kids can play in and bbq/picnic areas.
If you are a Glen Eira resident remnant indigenous vegetation can be hard to find - believe me I've looked! But if you need a little pocket of nature to visit, then look no further than Boyd Park, on Neerim Road, Murrumbeena. This is a linear park, that has bike tracks, dogs off leash, a playground and gets pretty busy on weekend. But if you take a moment to find a small section between Neerim Road and the railway line (close to Hughesdale Station), you find a very nice area of old Red Gum trees, and a fenced off area of remnant vegetation with the mid/ground-layer somewhat intact - this is a lovely spot for your little ones to explore (no dogs inside fenced area).
It came to me that this particular park gives a nice juxtaposition between indigenous trees and exotic trees. Its great to look at the different shapes and tree formations, leaf shapes and colour, and the fact that the exotic trees are losing their leaves but the indigenous trees aren't.
There are tree hollows to watch lorikeets come in and out of and bossy Noisy Miners trying to run everyone's business. A few little nooks and crannies to explore also.
These little gems should be cared for and expanded on to increase natural areas in suburban areas - especially integrating more indigenous vegetation alongside the existing flora.
For more of this idea, see the latest article in The Age about People and Parks Foundation vision to do just that!
On a side note, I have read Murrumbeena means "land of the frogs"!
As I have mentioned in previous posts there are still frogs calling this time of year in Melbourne, such as Common Froglets, Southern Brown Tree Frogs, Victorian Smooth Froglets and Brood Frogs. Come spring and summer, more species start to call as the weather warms up. If you are out and about during the day or night and you hear frogs calling - how do you figure out what species of frog it is, and what should you do with that information? To answer the first question have a look at these apps below, they are Frogs of Australia ($24.99 on App store); Museum Victoria Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (free on App store); Ecolinc Flora and Fauna Guide (free on App store); and Australian Museum Frogs Field Guide (free on Aust. Museum website/app store). They all have great information about frogs and also have a recording of each species call.
So, to answer the second question - what to do with this information? Well there is a great citizen science project called the Frog Census run by Melbourne Water, see link HERE. The data informs Melbourne Water's planning and decision making on waterway health and will be added to the CSIRO's Atlas of Living Australia to share biodiversity knowledge about endangered species. You record your calling frog(s) and send the data into Melbourne Water - simple hey! It's also a great way to get kids excited about being out in nature and contributing to science. Who knows... you may find a new population of a species that hasn't been recorded before!
There are also other programs in N.S.W. (F.A.T.S) and Frogwatch ins S.A.
If you are looking for some adventure and are happy to travel a bit and spend the day out of Melbourne for a nature exploration day... then Yea Wetlands is for you! The Yea Wetlands is home to many species of native mammals, frogs, reptiles, insects and birds.
There is a lovely new discovery centre and walks through the Yea wetlands. http://www.ywatercentre.com.au/
This is a great time to hear Victorian Smooth Froglets calling, and also catch lots of small woodland birds darting to and fro, like the Grey Fantail, White-browed Scrubwren and Brown Thornbills.
The main walk is flat and easy, with much of it on a boardwalk. There are lots of great interpretive signs along the way too. Its a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the tranquillity and sounds of the bush.
Looking for more outdoor adventures... go to Active in Parks website, you will find the link on our Links Page.
According to the AmphibiaWeb database there are currently 6,644 frogs and toads in the world. The variety of frogs is astonishing!
The largest frog recorded is the Goliath Frog, growing to 3 kilograms! It is found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea in Africa. Unfortunately, these big guys are endangered due to habitat loss and over-collection for the food and pet trade (Photo: . https://au.pinterest.com/pin/330310953892352940/)
On the other end of the spectrum, here is a photo of the smallest frog Paedophryne amauensis recorded so far. They are the smallest vertebrate animal recorded (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/01/120111-smallest-frogs-vertebrates-new-species-science-animals/). They are tiny - about 7.7 mm long - and seem to live solely amid leaf litter on New Guinea's rain forest floor. These little guys have adapted to eat very small insects like mites and camouflage well in the leaf litter.