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The Green Life: Fighting Frog Decline: Romance and Reproduction

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March 24, 2009

Fighting Frog Decline: Romance and Reproduction

The frog princeIn fairy tales, they can turn into princes with just a little attention from an oblivious princess. But in the real world, frogs aren't faring too well. According to the International Union for Conservation for Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), 32 percent of amphibian species are known to be threatened or extinct, and at least 42 percent of amphibian species are declining in population. Possible causes for the frog decline include habitat destruction, predation, global warming, pesticides, disease (such as chytrid fungus), and a lack of leaves on the forest floor. Needless to say, the wide range of potential threats makes conservation efforts difficult.

Adopting a let's-make-more approach, some conservationists are working on the frog decline problem by encouraging reproduction in the species. The Community Service Volunteers' Action Earth campaign in Edinburgh, Scotland, is helping frogs mix and mingle at a "frog hotel," reports NPR. The amphibian love nest consists of a "compost cafe" and a "sleeping area," where the couples can do the deed in private. Taking a different route, the Amphibian Ark project has been setting up "biobanks" to store frog sperm since June, 2008, reports the New Scientist. These sperm banks could help ensure genetic diversity for populations in severe decline. The plan has one small hitch: Frog eggs don't store as well as sperm, so researchers in Germany are experimenting with the idea of creating frog offspring from two sets of sperm. Looks like we might have to rewrite that fairy tale after all.

--Della Watson

Want to do your part to help frogs? The Community Service Volunteers group recommends setting up a log pile in your backyard, as frogs like dark, secluded places where they can be safe from predators.

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