August 12th, 2010
Student Questions from the mailbox at Base Camp Discovery
Anonymous student asks: How many frog species are there in the world?
There are approximately 4200 frog species in the world. The exact number of frog species in the world is difficult to determine because new species are being described every year by scientists and others are thought to have recently gone extinct in the wild including, possibly, the Panamanian golden frog, which can be seen on exhibit here at The Maryland Zoo. This species and many other wild amphibians have experienced severe declines in recent decades due to such factors as pollution, habitat destruction, exotic diseases (chytrid, a fungus which attacks the skin of amphibians, is the main culprit in the decline of Panamanian golden frogs) and the capture of individuals for the pet trade.
Come visit the Panamanian Golden Frog Exhibit in the Chimpanzee Forest at the Maryland Zoo to learn more about Project Golden Frog, the conservation program created to determine a solution to the chytrid problem and produce healthy Panamanian Golden Frogs in captivity whose offspring may some day be reintroduced into their tropical mountain stream habitats. In the meantime, here are some things that you can do at home to help frogs (and at the same time other plants and animals) in the wild:
- Don’t purchase frogs for pets that have been obtained from the wild or take wild amphibians as pets.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that you use on your lawn and garden. When they are washed off your property into local streams, these chemicals can harm the sensitive skin of frogs and other amphibians.
- Don’t release pet frogs into the wild. They may introduce diseases like chytrid into uninfected areas.
- Join and/or volunteer for an organization like the Zoo or Project Golden Frog that supports amphibian and habitat conservation.
- Participate in the Frog Watch USA citizen science project coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Participants learn to identify frog calls and then census frogs at a local wetland of their choice. For more information about participating in this project, go to this link: http://www.aza.org/become-a-frogwatch-volunteer/
- Conserve energy and reduce, re-use and recycle resources. Doing these things at home reduces the need for resource exploitation projects like dams and forest clear cuts that directly and indirectly affect the quality of amphibian habitats.