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Amphibians as Bioindicators. Tony Li, Michael Ivanov, Jasmine Gallup. Amphibians as Bioindicators. Reasons for why amphibians are good bioindicators include: Amphibians breathe through their skin, so they are much more affected by changes to air and water caused by pollution.

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Amphibians as Bioindicators

Tony Li, Michael Ivanov, Jasmine Gallup


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Amphibians as Bioindicators

Reasons for why amphibians are good bioindicators include:

  • Amphibians breathe through their skin, so they are much more affected by changes to air and water caused by pollution.

  • Amphibians require aquatic habitats for reproduction, so they will be directly affected by changes in water quality due to climate changes or human uses.

  • Amphibians often have to move between habitats (such as from a body of water to an area of land). Disturbances (for example: roads, trails, and traffic) can affect the amphibians’ ability to move between habitats.


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Amphibians as Bioindicators

  • Pollution can cause frogs to become malformed.

  • Causes for malformation of frogs include parasites, chemicals, and ultraviolet light.


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Parasites

  • The parasite Ribeiroia ondatrae, a type of flatworm, appears to cause frog malformations.

  • Exposure to the parasite caused high frequencies of severe limb deformations to develop in several amphibian species.

  • Ribeiroia is not the only cause of frog malformation, as it was not found at all sites where malformed frogs were found.

  • Some evidence suggests that higher levels of nutrients are the cause of recent increases in the amount of Ribeiroia infections.


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Parasites

Life cycle of Ribeiroia ondatrae


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Chemicals

  • Pesticides are known to cause malformations or deaths of frogs when present in sufficient quantities.

  • Methoprene, an insecticide used to control mosquitoes, caused malformations in southern leopard frogs.

  • Endocrine disruptors, chemicals that interfere with development, and retinoic acid are being studied to determine whether they cause frog deformities.

  • High concentration of estrogen can also affect limb development.


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Ultraviolet light

  • UV radiation has been shown to cause frog malformities in the laboratory.

  • Some organic compounds may become toxic when exposed to UV light.


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Sources

  • http://nhguide.dbs.umt.edu/index.php?c=amphibians&m=bioindicators

  • http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/fs-043-01/


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