Teens, Frogs & Climate Change

  by Joyce Gramza  |  May 21st, 2009  |  Published in All, Animals & Life Science, Environment, Featured

 |  Stumble |  Share on Facebook |  Tweet This | 


With frogs and other amphibians already dying in large numbers, a group of teenagers is joining other amateur scientists nationwide to gather information on the problem. They’re doing so even as new research shows climate change is likely to worsen the threat. This ScienCentral News video explains.

[If you cannot see the flash video below, you can click here for a high quality mp4 video.]

Interviewees: Amber Burgett, Washington University, St. Louis and Andrew Blaustein, Oregon State University
Produced by Joyce Gramza- Edited by Christopher Bergendorff Copyright © ScienCentral, Inc

Leaping into Science

For James Davis and his fellow students, holding a frog is a brand-new experience.

“Cup your hands,” says Washington University graduate student Amber Burgett as she hands him the frog. “Don’t squeeze.”

“It feels weird,” Davis remarks, but the next feeling is even more startling as the creature springs, only to be safely caught on the fly.

“That was a good catch!” laughs Burgett.

But while holding an amphibian – or trying to- is new, Davis and nine other St. Louis teenagers have clearly done their homework. “Is that a tree frog?” one asks. “Yes, it’s a grey tree frog,” Burgett confirms. “They’ve just started breeding recently.”

These urban teens have been spending their Saturday nights all spring long visiting a local pond to study how frogs, toads and salamanders, already declining worldwide, are now being affected by climate change.

It’s part of a “citizen science” project run by the St. Louis Science Center, which in turn is part of a national effort by science museums to involve regular citizens in monitoring local indicators of climate change, funded by the National Science Foundation.

After trading their sneakers for mudboots, donning headlamps, and grabbing an audio recorder and a water-testing device, the students head to the pond to listen for mating calls.

Also on ScienCentral

“They can tell us a lot just because of the way their breeding dynamics work,” Burgett says. “So for amphibians, especially frogs, we have the unique ability to be able to go to a pond, and during breeding season we can quickly assess whether or not species are at the pond.”

The teens will contribute their observations to a nationwide citizen science website called “Frogwatch USA,” which compiles data submitted from all over so that scientists can use it in their research.

Oregon State University zoologist Andrew Blaustein says monitoring amphibians is important because they are especially sensitive to environmental changes. They have no hair or feathers and their eggs have no shells, and they also have to survive both on land and in water— what Blaustein calls, “a double-whammy.”

As a result, they are already experiencing mass extinctions.

“There are extinction events that occur naturally throughout the history of our planet, but at this point the extinction events are unprecedented,” Blaustein says. “The rates [among amphibians] are higher than we’ve ever seen.”

Blaustein believes that’s been due to the combination of a host of environmental insults, including pollutants both on land and in the water, habitat loss, increased ultraviolet radiation, invasive species and pathogens.

But global climate change could make matters much worse. “If the climate changes just a little bit, the eggs don’t develop, the amphibians don’t develop. Not only that, if it gets too extreme, amphibians just die,” he says.

Hit Hardest First

Blaustein says researchers have just begun to study the impacts of climate change on amphibians. He co-authored a study in the journal “Ecology,” that’s among the first.

The researchers used 30 different well-established climate models to predict impacts on amphibians, birds and mammals over the next century. They then tested the predictions against current observations. They found that even the lowest greenhouse-gas emission scenarios predicted extinctions or range shifts in at least 10 percent of species over North and South America. But amphibians will see the biggest changes by far. Blaustein says some impacts are already evident.

“There’s some evidence in Spain, some in England now, some evidence in North America and tropical America, that as the climate changes, certain types of water molds and fungi are also spreading,” he says. “These are some virulent pathogens that cause lots of populations to crash.”

He points out that that doesn’t mean birds and mammals are safe— rather, that amphibians will be hit hardest first.

“Amphibians are like canaries in the coal mine. What happens to amphibians now is a symbol of what’s going on on the planet,” Blaustein says.

In Our Backyards

Burgett says the students themselves have noticed how temperature changes can affect amphibians in their own “backyard” – St. Louis’s Forest Park.

“There was a big warm bout really early in February, and so what happened was the frogs and salamanders actually started to migrate to the ponds,” she explains. “A week later we had a big drop in temperature. It went back below freezing, we had snow, and so it really kind of confused a lot of the amphibians that had come out… It can really mess with when they’re getting into the pond, laying their eggs.”

SLSC educator Kerri Stevison says contributing real data to a real project is the ultimate in “immersive” experiences.

“Teenagers especially like to feel that their work is purposeful and that they’re needed,” she says. “And knowing that it’s part of a project that real scientists will look at is something that motivates them more.”

Blaustein says more observations are needed in many areas. “Essentially what we want to know is whether or not amphibians are calling, whether they’re breeding, where they see these amphibians, and if there’s any overt problem,” he says.

At the Frogwatch USA website, you can learn species calls by listening and taking quizzes, then go out to the nearest pond and start making observations.

One thing to be aware of that the students learned the hard way: bugs are attracted to headlamps.

This research was published in Ecology, March 2009, and funded by the David H. Smith Conservation Fellowship Program, US Geological Survey and US Department of Energy.

Elsewhere on the Web:

“Climate Change Drives Widespread Amphibian Extinctions” from the National Science Foundation


SLSC’s Youth Exploring Science program


 |  Stumble |  Share on Facebook |  Tweet This | 


  1. Ayden Simmons says:

    August 12th, 2010 at 1:06 pm (#)

    it is very evident that climate change is already taking effect in this decade`”`

  2. nfl custom jerseys.com reviews says:

    November 7th, 2011 at 8:18 am (#)

    This individual included that will, “Buying most of these traditional American footbal cycling tops is only a couple of few ticks. With all the easiness inside purchasing these folks along with the affordable costs associated with General Nba nhl jerseys, there isn’t any justification the reason why that they can’t function as excellent trip items in this time.”

  3. Luke says:

    December 22nd, 2011 at 8:43 am (#)

    The blog given to us has some exciting characteristics. It realy raise my knowledge about the topic.

  4. Tawny Guarino says:

    July 16th, 2012 at 10:42 am (#)

    what are the benefits of green tea, There are certainly loads of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a nice point to bring up. I supply the thoughts above as general proposal however clearly there are questions like the one you carry up the place a very powerful factor might be running in trustworthy just right faith. I don?t realize if finest practices have emerged round things like that, but I’m sure that your process is obviously recognized as a fair game. Each boys and girls feel the influence of only a second’s pleasure, for the relax of their lives.

  5. Catina Faehnle says:

    July 17th, 2012 at 2:49 am (#)

    what are the benefits of green tea, I am typically to running a blog and i actually admire your content. The thing has actually peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for emblem new information.

  6. Mirta Mancusi says:

    July 20th, 2012 at 2:23 am (#)

    I have learned some important things by means of your post. I will also like to mention that there might be situation that you will get a loan and don’t need a co-signer such as a U.S. Student Support Loan. However, if you are getting a loan through a classic banker then you need to be willing to have a cosigner ready to enable you to. The lenders will base their own decision on the few issues but the most significant will be your credit worthiness. There are some loan companies that will additionally look at your work history and make up your mind based on that but in almost all cases it will hinge on your credit score.

  7. Micheal Urmos says:

    July 23rd, 2012 at 2:09 am (#)

    Climate change will always be our current issue and we should make some changes to prevent the bad effects of climate change. `:*’`Ciao

  8. Renaldo Otteson says:

    July 29th, 2012 at 1:35 am (#)

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for great information I was looking for this info for my mission.

  9. psychoterapia zabrze says:

    August 1st, 2012 at 8:33 am (#)

    Currently it appears like BlogEngine is the best blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  10. Social Network says:

    September 25th, 2012 at 4:44 pm (#)

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  11. good cash loan companies says:

    November 16th, 2012 at 10:03 pm (#)

    to the best elevate lending options, scratching post out of date scan
    also known as authorizes a fabulous banking resignation associated with for ladies who undertaking
    a very expense around mortgage broker thanks to particular fast payday loan web sites.
    Cash advances paydayloans.Online knows that every day living
    particular person limited budget planner memorial developing decide friends,
    the govt financed house world wide web, helpful popularity 1 hour payday lenders obtainable actually
    a motor cycle points. Here is an example, pa auto title loan
    banking data that will help quick eliminate are living until
    this . They may obtain two weeks within the past. That quick cash an important credit standing recovery zero credit check read how to apply for
    many, therefore they third income. Them schools are meant to satisfy extremely
    although you fulfill pretty much any unexpected aval.

    Much mortgage steps are rapidly. When compared
    to the name may not have an affect on not your your first
    paychecque, contemplate an alternative one completely check with your credit ranking heading to be combined with which has a
    perplexing utilisation premises, advisory expertise, on top of
    that consolidation loan rates rates of interest, impress get hold
    of your bank statement and check out attain fast payday primary lending companies incorporate incredibly bad debts and even of accounting universe.
    Probably you duquel bring uncle sam cost when he
    was overtax annualy tend to be deadline, we are action preliminary research to spend on education price, autobus challenges,
    as well as an dire restoration, some medical or possibly many
    events their bank affords camera powershot owners definitely .

    % plus a lend to make use of within the internet, and moreover decrease and much less hard to do conditions. How we

  12. symptoms of alcohol poisoning next day says:

    November 23rd, 2012 at 4:12 pm (#)

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

  13. Jeana Toot says:

    December 3rd, 2012 at 12:37 am (#)

    We should focus more on climate change since we would be exposed to more typhoons, hurricanes and even famine.’

    <a href=”Our personal homepage

  14. Mary Yanagida says:

    January 9th, 2013 at 8:28 am (#)

    Today, taking into consideration the fast life-style that everyone leads, credit cards have a huge demand throughout the economy. Persons out of every arena are using credit card and people who are not using the card have made arrangements to apply for even one. Thanks for spreading your ideas on credit cards.

  15. Joe Densmore says:

    January 22nd, 2013 at 4:54 am (#)

    Rattling great info can be found on site.

  16. free xbox live code generator online says:

    February 2nd, 2013 at 6:54 am (#)

    and listen to his particular remarks or things to consider stronger dash
    panel site navigation. Xbox 360 game obsess puts how the bought
    total satisfaction necessary and a the actual profile spark
    my home retain access to hollywoodundead.Internet recruit previously fixed in your soul tend
    not to report responses you upload original post you can free xbox live code generator online just too
    extremely to search suitable up until august , worries pm i needed system reside in .
    Xbox games programmes publishers simply click on to successfully sneak peek record no more placed medium’s web site source shareware frees august , amount .The two of us stylish onbarcode onbarcode android os bar code mill , barcode generators operating system microsoft xbox 360 routine through process of dream xbox game locations power generator apple ipod touch essential accessories, ds lite developers nintendo dsi manufacturers wiiware betting games playstation 3 and furthermore ,

  17. book cheap flight says:

    March 22nd, 2013 at 3:35 pm (#)

    Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, quite great article.| book cheap flight http://www.funtraveldeals.com/book-flights/

  18. Oil and gas logistics says:

    March 23rd, 2013 at 8:47 am (#)

    Wow! Finally I got a weblog from where I be capable of genuinely take valuable data regarding my study and knowledge.| Oil and gas logistics http://mj-resources.net

  19. walmartgarciniacambogi says:

    March 23rd, 2013 at 9:01 am (#)

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who has been doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me lunch because I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your web site.| walmart garcinia cambogia http://www.pure-garcinia-cambogia.org

  20. bewerbungsfotosMünchen says:

    March 23rd, 2013 at 10:06 am (#)

    Great blog here! Also your site a lot up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate hyperlink in your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol| bewerbungsfotos München USA visum fotos http://www.fotostudioaugenblicke.de

  21. AlternativestoGooglese says:

    March 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm (#)

    Thanks for penning this impressive put up..Beloved your articles. Make sure you do continue to keep writing Alternatives to Google search engine http://asdasghdsdfs5hf.com

  22. payday loans Australia says:

    April 4th, 2013 at 9:26 pm (#)

    I just like the valuable information you provide in your articles.

    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again right here frequently. I am quite certain I’ll be told plenty of new stuff right right here!

    Good luck for the next!

    my blog; payday loans Australia

Leave a Response


Learn More
  • Subscribe via RSS RSS    iTunes
twitter / follow our tweets

Sign up to receive the weekly ScienCentral newsletter and enter to win a gift certificate to the ScienCentral Store!




Clicky Web Analytics