If you don’t already love amphibians, you should. Amphibians are useful fellows. Before the FDA approved at-home pregnancy tests in 1976 and they became widely available in 1978, women relied on their doctors to confirm they were pregnant. And for many years, doctors’ best pregnancy indicator was a gaggle of female frogs kept at the ready to be injected with the woman-in-question’s urine to see if it would induce ovulation in the frog. If a frog produced eggs shortly after injection, the woman was pregnant.
For those inclined to point out that this is 2015 (noted, thanks) and we are far from the days of live frog pregnancy tests, news of widespread amphibian decline might make you shrug, “meh.” For you, I offer this: According to a 2013 USGS study, amphibian populations in the United States declined at a rate of 3.7% a year between 2002 and 2012. If this rate holds steady, amphibians will disappear from half of the places they are currently found within the next two decades. And this is not just a problem at home; worldwide, amphibian species are in steep decline.
Why should we care? For one, they have been around for more than 350 million years and are an integral part of healthy, modern ecosystems. If that doesn’t move you, consider that one species of salamander native to the Southeastern US, Ambystoma talpoideum, is capable of eating up to 900 mosquito larvae a day. Perhaps now you are on board and asking yourself, “ok, but what can I do to stop the habitat decline, pollution, and diseases that are conspiring to eliminate my new best friends?” Besides educating yourself on the issue, you might consider joining Leah Jay’s crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the California-based charity, Save the Frogs.
Jay’s plan is to create a richly illustrated book of her watercolors (already completed, fyi) and donate half the proceeds to Save the Frogs. You can see all the plates in the book on her website. Her Amphibian Love Indiegogo campaign goes through April 30th. As of this writing it is 43% funded. Let’s help make this project a reality! And wouldn’t ya know it, April 25th is Save the Frogs Day. So do something to save the frogs, ribbit!