02/16/16

Caring For Stray Frogs in the Winter

Every winter, frog lovers around the world write to us about stray frogs that wander inside. Last week a man from Maryland wrote about finding a grey tree frog.

Dear Susan,
“I found a gray tree frog hopping around inside our gym here in Maryland. I guess he was drawn inside by the heat. Well, I took him home and have him in a fish tank with water, crickets and artificial leaves for shelter. I’ve got a heating pad that sticks to the back of the tank. I was wondering how cold I could keep my home and still have the frog be ok?” – Gianni

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

Gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) by Robert A. Coggeshall on Wikipedia

For those of you not familiar with grey tree frogs, here’s some information and to read more, a page on Wikipedia:

The gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) is a species of small arboreal frog native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.[2]

As the scientific name implies, gray tree frogs are variable in color owing to their ability to camouflage themselves from gray to green, depending on the substrate where they are sitting. The degree of mottling varies.[3] They can change from nearly black to nearly white. They change color at a slower rate than a chameleon. The female does not croak and has a white throat; however, the male does croak and has a black/gray throat. The female is usually larger than the male.

The gray tree frog is capable of surviving freezing of their internal body fluids to temperatures as low as -8 °C.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_tree_frog

 

When we find stray frogs who haven’t found a place to hibernate, it’s usually because we continue to build within the areas of their habitat, and they may get lost or confused. Going inside where the heat is on shows that this frog is trying to survive through the winter. It’s wonderful when people care enough to help them.

Rescued Grey Tree Frog in Winter

We’ve found a great site with tips on how to care for frogs and get them through the colder months, so they’ll be healthy and ready to go back outside come spring.

How to Take Care of a Pet Frog

 

Here are two of our previous posts that help explain what happens to frogs in the winter:

Winter is Coming: How Do Frogs Avoid Freezing

and

How Frogs and Toads Adapt To Winter’s Chill

 

01/19/16

Protect and Save Liberty State Park

When you live in a city like Jersey City, you yearn for some open space. We’re fortunate to have Liberty State Park nearby. A beautiful park where you can ride your bicycle for miles, and see nature all around, as well as majestic views of the Statue of Liberty, skyline of Manhattan, ships coming up and down the Hudson River, and breathe some fresh air.

The park is just behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and as you ride your bicycle the views continually change, each more breathtaking than the next.

I would hate to see development that doesn’t belong there, ruin such a pristine place.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park which will tell Governor Christie that we want our park to stay just as is, so we can continue to enjoy it freely.

Susan Newman in Liberty State Park Bicycle riding

More Details via NY/NJ Baykeeper about Liberty State Park:

The governor’s recent proposals to lease public parkland to private developers for large-scale commercial projects would destroy the beloved park behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

With public open space already so scarce in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions, we can’t let that happen. For forty years, overwhelming public consensus has consistently rejected exactly these kinds of commercialization and privatization efforts.

There’s a reason LSP is known as “The People’s Park” – we’ve won these battles before, and we can win again. But only with your help.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park

#SaveLSP Liberty State park aerial view with Miss Liberty

#SaveLSP – Liberty State Park aerial view with Miss Liberty courtesy of Liberty State Park.

 

12/13/15

Reptile Kingdom Resides in Painting Workshop

Dec.6, 2015
Text by LAN Lianchao
Video by LAN Lianchao & CHANG Zhuojin & SHI Xinyue & LIU Yuting

Hundreds of transparent boxes are piled up against the wall, with simulated wild environments. The residents of those cubical rooms have watched the day and night of the painting workshop, ARTTRA, for seven years.

The vivarium belongs to a painter, Herman Chan, 41, who has over 100 reptiles from about 50 species.

“Maybe you can not find a second painting workshop with so many reptiles in Hong Kong,” he says.

Chan’s pets attract people who learn painting in a way of improving their ability of observation. Reptile knowledge is a bonus for curious students.

Chan says he collects and breeds various species of reptiles on purpose. “I enjoy taking care of them technically,” he says.

The first reptile owned by Chan was a salamander when he was in the primary school. Since then he has never stopped.

Chan used to raise his reptiles at home, afraid of customers’ resistance against them. He says he hopes to stay with them more, not only the time after work.

Not until he took a chameleon to the studio did he find the charisma of his pets. Children are really into it and inspired to watch the detailed of the animal, Chan says.

Meanwhile Chan tells them chameleons change color due to the temperature, humidity or light, not the background colors thought by many people.

“The studio is a perfect combination of my hobby and job,” Chan adds. “It is an incubator for my reptiles and my painting.”

Chan Tsz Yin Andrea, 5 yrs old, Hong Kong, Arttra.

Chan Tsz Yin Andrea, 5 yrs old, Hong Kong, Arttra.

With the Frogs Are Green annual children’s art contest deadline approaching, you can see how engaged the young students are by learning about amphibians and reptiles, seeing them up close, and then expressing themselves through art. I’m thrilled that Herman’s students entered our annual contest!

This blog was originally posted on https://lanlianchao.wordpress.com Frogs Are Green has permission to repost it.

12/8/15

Foliage For Indoor Frogs

Frogs are one of the more common classroom pets because they are quite easy to care for and they look very cool. Growing frogs is a great way for science teachers to teach kids about metamorphosis because they can use the frog as example for this process. Frogs at first are tadpoles and then they turn into an adult frog. But there are a few things that you should know if you are thinking about raising a frog in a classroom or in other indoor spaces. One of the most important things being what type of foliage to use for the frogs as that can determine how the frogs feel in their classroom terrarium because plants provide the frogs with cover as well as help with the oxygen production in the vivarium. This foliage will be different based on what type of frog you have – an aquatic, semi-aquatic, terrestrial or arboreal (climbing or tree) frog.

frog_pic

Foliage for aquatic frogs
Because aquatic frogs tend to spend most of their life underwater these frogs will require to live in vivarium where there is a lot of water which means that you will have to have aquatic plants too, because regular land plants won’t be able to survive in the water or in a place where it is very moist and wet. Common plants that grow and feel well in aquatic environments are Anubias species plants, which are very durable aquatic plants; Pothos Plants and Philodendron that are long vine type plants that will nicely cover your aquatic terrariums wall; Cryptocoryne wendtii, which are tall plants with heavy foliage; as well as Anacharis plants that the frogs can use to hide among and other similar plants. But for classroom purposes you can also make a biotope aquatic tank meaning that you place all of the same plants that can be found in the natural habitat of the frog species that you have in your terrarium.
 

Foliage for semi-aquatic frogs
Semi-aquatic frogs are called that because they spend half of their time in the water and half on land and they need appropriate tanks with 50% of the tank being water but and the rest being land. This also means that in a vivarium for these types of frogs you can combine aquatic plants and also non-aquatic plants. Just keep in mind that these non-aquatic plants too should favor a moist environment and soil so don’t place plants that prefer dry conditions in a semi-aquatic tank. For the water portion of the terrarium you can again use the same aquatic plants that I mentioned previously, but for the land portion of the tank you can use plants like Bromeliads that will adapt to basically any environment, as well as Ferns that are high humidity plants and other plants that can stand humidity and their roots being constantly wet.
 

Foliage for arboreal (tree) frogs
Then there are so called arboreal or tree frogs that need a lot of climbing space meaning that their vivarium too needs to have taller plants with climbing potential. Great plants for frogs of this type are Philodendrons that grow really fast and in basically any conditions; Wandering Jews that also are quick growing plants; plants called “Golden Pothos” that is adaptable and an easy growing plant; Aglaonema genus plants that can reach up to 3 feet, as well as Marcgravia or Shingle Plant that has fat leaves and tends to climb on other surfaces; and a plant by the name of “Silver Skies” that also grows fast and has big leaves.
 

Foliage for terrestrial frogs
Lastly, there are quite a lot of frogs that are categorized as terrestrial or land frogs. For these types of frogs you can create a vivarium that is quite similar to one that I described for arboreal plants. However, in the terrestrial frog case they don’t need the height of the plants but rather they need bigger and longer spaces that are heavily clad with foliage because these frogs need places to hide and they are not able to climb the plants like tree frogs can. For terrestrial frog tanks you can use plants like Peperomia and Pilea plants, both are plants with many different species that are all good for terrariums, as well as Orchids because they don’t like wet places and other house plants or land plants.
 
One thing to keep in mind with terrariums and plants though is the light that they get because for any plant to grow they need light for photosynthesis to happen. The more light plants get the faster they grow, so make sure that in the classroom the frogs are placed in a spot where it gets natural lighting. An alternative of course, which in many cases might be even better than natural light, is to install t5 grow lights or any other similar artificial lights above your terrarium, because with these artificial lights the plants as well as the frogs will get the light and heat they need and you will be able to control the conditions in the terrarium so that they are just perfect for the species of frogs you have.
 

bio_photo

*** Guest post: My name is Ben Thorton and I am the owner and editor of T5fixtures.com. My passion is all things related to plants and plant growing and I consider myself an expert in this field, which is why I love to share my passion with others to help them be successful in gardening and plant growing too.

12/4/15

Environmentalism: It’s up to YOU to teach the young

It’s December and there are just 11 days left for children to enter the 2015 kids art contest, and all ages to enter the photo contest. As I watch artworks and photos trickle in, I’m wondering (as I did in 2013) why aren’t more people participating? (read >> The Young Environmental Artist)

I see a pattern here. The climate talks are on in Paris, but most are just talkers and not doers. It’s not enough to “like” and share pictures and articles on social media, and not actually do something to show you care.

My own Jersey City made me proud last year with close to 200 students from 17 schools submitting artworks. In addition, we received artworks from 17 states in the US and 32 countries around the world. The total last year was close to 1000 pieces of creative expression. It was marvelous! The winning artworks were celebrated online and in 3 well received exhibitions including an exhibition in Jersey City’s City Hall.

Jersey City is a culturally active area with a large artist community, and yet these same artists, many who have children, aren’t participating either. So, I’m back to wondering why it’s easier for me to reach parents and teachers in other countries and not those in my own area?

I’m asking you now… educators and parents to explain to the young why they should care about wildlife and the environment and I’ll continue to do my part to help amphibians and the environment too.

Please make me proud by entering today!

 

Susan Newman,
Founder, Frogs Are Green, Inc.
A NJ nonprofit organization – “Healthy frogs mean a healthy planet for all.”

Below is one of my favorite entries from 2014.

1st Place Winner, Kardelen Koc, Turkey, Frogs Are Green Kids Art Contest 2014, age 3-6 group

1st Place Winner 2014, Kardelen Koc, Turkey, Frogs Are Green Kids Art Contest 2014, age 3-6 group

11/28/15

How Bd has impacted Arizona’s amphibian species

A Frogs Are Green eco-interview with Nick Massimo and Evan Brus.

When was your organization founded? Please tell us a bit about its/your mission, goals… When did you first begin this important work?

Evan and I are both PhD students studying the disease dynamics of a deadly fungal pathogen that infects amphibians all over the world. The pathogen is Batrachochtrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and it causes the disease called chytridiomycosis. This disease was first noticed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a wave of mass amphibian mortality events swept through Central America. Further research linked Bd to mass amphibian die offs and the extinction of multiple amphibian species all over the world.

Recent research has created a picture of how this pathogen may have originated in Brazil and spread to North America over 100 years ago. The oldest amphibian specimen that’s tested positive for Bd was in Illinois in 1888. Then, in the 1920s Bd was detected in California. Approximately 50 years passed before Bd was detected again in southern Mexico in 1972. The detection of Bd in Mexico was then tracked south into Central America where researchers first noticed the dramatic effects Bd could have on amphibian communities. The goal of our project is to better understand how Bd spread in the Americas, possibly passing through Arizona and to determine how this pathogen has impacted Arizona’s numerous amphibian species.

What is your educational background and what lead to wanting to specialize in this area and/or create your organization?

Nick Massimo

Nick MassimoI received a BS in biology and nutritional sciences and a minor in chemistry from the University of Arizona in 2011. After I graduated with my BS I spent two years working on numerous research projects studying species such as the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum), desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii), fungal endophytes (fungi that live inside plants), and several other herpertofauna species from the southwestern United States. I gained these experiences working with the University of Arizona, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a not-for-profit group, Friends of Saguaro National Park. The combination of knowledge I gained from mycological and herpetological research in Arizona provided a great platform for me to pursue my PhD at Arizona State University studying how a fungal pathogen affects Arizona amphibians.

 

Evan Brus

Evan BrusI received my B.S in Zoology, French, and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2011. During and after college, I worked in a social insect behavior lab studying the signals and cues that regulate nest construction in Polybia occidentalis, eventually traveling to Costa Rica to do research there. While studying for an ecology course, I happened upon the book Extinction in Our Times by my current advisor, James Collins. I was immediately intrigued by the story of amphibian declines, and I applied to do my PhD in his lab at ASU the following year.

 

Who would say has influenced you or your work?

Nick Massimo

I was inspired to pursue a career in biodiversity conservation by my early childhood experiences where I spent time with my family enjoying the great outdoors. Through these experiences I developed a deep appreciation of our beautifully complex natural world. The time I spent at the University of Arizona pursuing my BS continued to guide me to pursue a career in conservation due to some of my wonderful professors. Dr. Robichaux, Dr. Bonine and especially Dr. Arnold helped provide me with fantastic experiences and mentoring opportunities at the University of Arizona. Towards the end of my bachelor degree I received an internship with the Arizona Game and Fish Department. My advisor, David Grandmaison, introduced me to a wide array of projects focusing on conservation strategies for mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species in Arizona.

After I graduated, I received a job with my most influential mentor, Dr. Betsy Arnold. During my time working with Dr. Arnold, I gained a large amount of experience on how to develop, conduct and conclude an intricate research project working with fungi that live inside of plants. Without the help and mentorship Dr. Arnold provided me, I would not be where I am today. Dr. Arnold has been my most influential mentor.

 

Evan Brus

Like many biologists and ecologists, I grew up with a deep appreciation for nature. I was lucky enough to live in a relatively rural area of Wisconsin surrounded by streams and forests, which I relished as a child. My early experiences exploring the outdoors informed my initial choice to study biology, but I credit several college professors for helping me refine my interests and encouraging my work. My undergraduate research mentor Dr. Robert Jeanne, as well as his grad students Ben Taylor and Teresa Schueller, taught me the culture of academia and the skills needed for data collection, analysis, and eventual publication. Without my experiences in this research group, I probably would not be a scientist today. My other major influence was Dr. Calvin DeWitt, who taught my introductory ecology course with fervent enthusiasm and took personal interest in all his students. I learned from him how to pursue my passions and how to visualize the myriad connections between humans and the natural world in everyday life. Currently, I draw inspiration from the broad community of scientists researching amphibian decline and chytridiomycosis, too many to name. The quantity and quality of research produced in our field is remarkable, and everyone is willing to help one another and collaborate. It’s a very welcoming and dedicated community.

 

Please share the details of your work: the medium, technique and discoveries.

Our project will analyze how Bd may have been introduced into Arizona and how its introduction could have shaped Arizona amphibian distributions. In order to investigate these questions amphibian specimens housed in natural history collections will be assessed for the presence of Bd. Our work will determine at what time were certain species infected with Bd in the state, and do these historic infections help us understand the dramatic decline of leopard frog species in Arizona.

testing Arizona frogs for Bd

Our work will rely on testing amphibian skin for the presence of Bd DNA. In order to do this, we will swab amphibian specimens stored in natural history. DNA extractions will then be performed following protocols used by other researchers who have recently completed similar projects analyzing museum specimens. After DNA extractions are complete, real time PCR will be used to determine if fungal pathogen DNA is present and if so, quantify the pathogen load on the specimen. Once all of this data is collected we will gain an understanding of the disease dynamics of Bd in Arizona. This information will help determine when this deadly pathogen arrived in Arizona, what species of amphibians it infected after it arrived across time, and a possible mechanism that brought it to the state (e.g. invasive species, the bait trade etc.). Finally, this information will be used to help establish management plans to mitigate the spread of this pathogen in amphibian populations that are currently infected with Bd and also provide critical information on how to keep Bd out of populations that are currently uninfected.

We have not started our project yet. Other researchers who have recently completed similar projects have discovered Bd on amphibians in natural history collections in the past. Their work has helped us form our hypotheses on how Bd may have entered Arizona as it spread south into Mexico and Central America. Based off of a previous project we know that Bd was found on a Chiricahua Leopard Frog in Arizona as early as 1972. We would like to conduct an extensive project to discover the very important disease dynamics of Bd in Arizona, that’s why we are trying to raise funds for our research with the Instrumentl crowdfunding campaign (https://www.instrumentl.com/campaigns/history-of-a-deadly-disease-in-arizona-amphibians/).

how Bd may have spread through the Americas

How Bd may have spread to Arizona

What has been the most exciting discovery?

As we reviewed recent research conducted by other scientists we were intrigued to learn that this fungal pathogen has a very complex history. Unraveling the history of this extremely deadly amphibian disease is made even more moving as amphibians are the most threatened Class of vertebrates on the planet (IUCN Red List Report 2015). This information paired with recent research indicates that amphibians are experiencing extraordinarily high extinction rates currently than they have in the past. We find this information extremely motivating, as we’d like to conserve amphibian biodiversity for the well being of ecosystems and for our future generations.

What are some challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?

The biggest challenge we are currently facing is obtaining funding to conduct this important project. The scientific field as a whole has been experiencing a shortage of funds to carry out extremely important research projects, and our field is no different. To combat this issue, we are currently exploring new avenues to fund our research endeavors. This is where the crowdfunding campaign (https://www.instrumentl.com/campaigns/history-of-a-deadly-disease-in-arizona-amphibians/) comes into play. We are trying to reach out to our community more directly and get them engaged with our project. We’d like to communicate the challenge we, as scientists face, as well as the challenges amphibians are now incurring.

How do you reach your targeted audience?

Is it through your website, exhibitions, advertising or social media or another route? Which is most effective and why?

We are exploring a variety of options to engage our audience. We have been reaching out to our close colleagues, research and herpetology community directly through word of mouth and email to generate support for our project. Additionally, we have also used social media (Facebook and Twitter) to gain support for our research project. Both of these avenues have provided support for our project but we’d like to reach more people. To do this, we are contacting people and groups located within Arizona to convey that this project will directly impact the amphibian biodiversity of our state and in other parts of the world.

How do you keep the audience engaged over time?

We’ve created a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/905234229573944/) to keep our audience up to date on the progression of our research project as it’s being conducted. This will keep our audience up to date on the current status of our project and the exciting discoveries we’re making. In addition to our Facebook group, we are also planning to present the results of our study in a scientific journal article and present this information to our community in a series of talks.

What can we do to inspire the next generation to want to help the environment and the wildlife?

The information we gain from completing this study will directly lend to the construction of effective amphibian biodiversity conservation strategies. Without the help from our next generation we are at risk of losing much of the amazing amphibian biodiversity on our planet. The Frogs Are Green organization could be a wonderful partner in helping us to spread our project to its supporters. We feel that this organization can help reach a younger and broader audience than we’ve been able to reach thus far. In order for the meaningfulness of our research to be effective we need our next generations to know about the wonderful and beautiful amphibian biodiversity our planet has to offer.

What can people do to help? Donate and/or share to your cause/work?

We would be most appreciative if individuals would pledge to share our campaign with friends and colleagues using social media. We hope to reach as many people as possible because we feel the current state of our planet’s amphibian biodiversity is at a critical point. As a community we need to act now to preserve these species to maintain healthy ecosystems and for future generations. Sharing our campaign would help us reach our goal however we would be extremely thankful if people would also donate to our project so we can conduct this extremely important research.