Frogs, a key environmental indicator

Amphibians are secondary consumers in a lot of food chains. Snakes, birds of prey consume them. Also, frogs have a key role in pest control. They are a key prey to vertebrates and invertebrates.

Quoting from IISc paper:

From the ecological perspective, amphibians are regarded as good ecological indicators. Due to high degree of sensitivity, either during tadpole stage or as adults, they respond to very slight change in the environment. Such responses have been used to indicate habitat fragmentation, ecosystem stress, impact of pesticides, and various anthropogenic activities. “

Any change in environmmental conditions can be perceived with the existence/decline of amphibians.

It was many years back when I met Varad Giri, Herpetologist from BNHS, who told about how there was no census on amphibian population in Maharashtra. Where we all go gaga over one species called Tiger, we fail to look at the key indicator of our environment-frogs.

“Researchers in Brazil found that the poison dart frog highly depends on rain-filled Brazil nut pods (which serve as the frog’s habitats) to survive the tadpole stage in its lifecycle.

Just imagine what may happen to these frogs if suddenly Brazil nut pods disappear from their environment.”

With massive decline in forest spaces, loss of habitat, frogs are disappearing, indicating the unhealthy environment that we live in.

The skin of the frogs are permeable, and hence any poison in the environment will be absorbed into them. When the bigger animals feed on them, the food chain is impacted.

Now, the disappearance of frogs is being noticed seriously and research has begun, but to what extent and how far we have reached, we do not know. At this juncture, it is important to realise its importance to the ecosystem and do something to save them from disappearing.


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