music; ambience: General frog ambience
â€œThe folly of polluting the very planet that we live on, sooner or later, is going to come back and haunt us.â€
Frogs are indicator species. Theyâ€™re sensitive to environmental change, and so theyâ€™re telling us about the health of their ecosystem. The question is, are we paying attention? Welcome to Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.
â€œAnd we should be looking very carefully what frogs are doing, because frogs are very, very sensitive animals, particularly to pollutants that are present in water.â€
Dr. Arthur White studies Australian frogs in their natural habitats.
â€œAnd often, frogs are so sensitive that they can detect substances in water that many of our instruments can’t even pick up. The downside of it is, of course, that humans have also polluted many waterways, and the consequence of that, of course, is that many frogs have suffered, and a number of species have disappeared completely from the planet. In some of the agricultural areas around Australia, the use of herbicides in particular, weed-killing sprays and things like that, has also affected many of the frogs. What we tend to see there is that many of the herbicides actually cause mutations, malformations in developing embryos in frogs. And so we’ll find tadpoles with two or three tails, or no tails. And sometimes they actually make it through to frogs and so you find frogs with one eye, no eyes, six legs, ten fingers on one foot.â€
So what are the frogs telling us?
â€œIf we continue to pollute the freshwater sources of this planet, what goes next? It’ll be, obviously, the less sensitive creatures. Should we, then, continue to pollute? And how long before it gets to us? Sooner or later, all of our misdeeds will come back.â€
Weâ€™ll hear more about Arthur Whiteâ€™s work with Australian frogs in future programs.
Please visit our website, pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planetâ€™s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.