Texas Tech Biology Frog Lab to Educate, Help Local Frogs and Toads; Volunteers Needed for Save the Frogs Day 2013

In the past 30 years, about 200 amphibian species have vanished, which is equivalent to losing about one species every two months.

The Bernal Lab at Texas Tech University’s Department of Biological Sciences will organize a series of Save the Frogs Day events on April 27 to raise awareness of the decline of anurans and improve the breeding habitat for frogs and toads on the South Plains.

Ximena (Hee-may-nah) Bernal, an assistant professor who studies frogs and toads in South America, says the amphibians are disappearing at an alarming rate around the world. In the past 30 years, about 200 amphibian species have vanished, she said, which is equivalent to losing about one species every two months.

“The events are a fun way to make people aware of a very serious problem,” Bernal said. “Frogs are very important to our ecosystem. They eat insects, such as mosquitoes, that carry diseases that harm humans and animals. They, in turn, are food for other creatures. If frogs disappear, then the food chain is disrupted, this will have negative ramifications on other species.”

By visiting a local school on Thursday and collaborating with The Science Spectrum with activities from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., event organizers hope to reach more than 380 children to teach them about the importance of frogs and toads. Kids will be able to interact with anurans and be involved in activities that will teach them about these amazing organisms and the scientific method.

In addition, lab members will lead a team of volunteers to clean playa lakes around town on Save the Frogs Day from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday (April 27). People interested in participating should come by the lobby of the Biology Building on Wednesday through Friday to learn about why it is important to save the frogs, what they can do to help and, sign up to help improve the conditions of the playa lakes around town.

“Frogs and toads in our area depend on the playa lakes to successfully breed,” Bernal said. “With their breeding season coming up soon, our goal is to help this group of animals by removing trash that would leak chemicals that can not only cause death and deformities but also can attract animals that also prey on amphibians.”

Last year, volunteers removed 58 30-gallon and 22 13-gallon bags of garbage from our target playas, she said. This year, organizers hope to surpass that amount.

For more information on threats to frogs: www.savethefrogs.com/threats/index.html.

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CONTACT: Ximena Bernal, assistant professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-2590 or ximena.bernal@ttu.edu.