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Hamline University Graduate School St. Paul, Minnesota. The Frog Malformities Issue: How Can My Students Help?. Hamline University Graduate School St. Paul, Minnesota. http://cgee.hamline.edu/frogs.

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hamline university graduate school st paul minnesota
Hamline University Graduate SchoolSt. Paul, Minnesota

The Frog Malformities Issue:

How Can My Students Help?


Scientists in MN and elsewhere had found malformed frogs in the early 1990s. Then the issue hit the national media in 1995. Why?

Students in Henderson, MN, found hundreds of malformed frogs at a site.

A Thousand Friends of Frogs was formed in the wake of this media coverage


What are we being told by:

Amphibian (frog and toad) malformities

Amphibian populations locally and globally

But first……



cold blood cold blood

smooth or slimy skin warty and dry skin

strong, long legs and stubby bodies with short webbed hind feet hind legs

two bulging eyes parotid glands behind eyes

lay eggs in clusters lay eggs in long chains

a group of frogs is called a group of toads is called

an ARMY of frogs a KNOT of toads

Frogs have:

Toads have:

frogs and toads
Frogs and Toads

14 species in MN

92 species

in USA

3,300 species

in the world

amphibian habitats
Amphibian Habitats



lakes, ponds, marshes

rivers and streams

why we care
Why We Care
  • Amphibians are a part of the planet’s bio-diversity.

2.Amphibians interact in interesting ways with each other and the environment, i.e. both prey and predators

why we care13
Why We Care

3. Amphibians provide benefits to humansi.e. Gastric Brooding Frog of Australia might have provided answers for people suffering from gastric ulcers

(Case of the Vanishing Frogs, T. Halliday and W. R. Heyer).

4 frogs as bio indicators
4. Frogs As Bio-indicators

1) double life--amphibious

2) permeable skin

3) absorb and concentrate toxins--biomagnification

4 frogs as bio indicators15
4. Frogs As Bio-indicators

Biomagnification: a process in which retained substances become more concentrated with each link in the food chain

external malformations
External Malformations
  • extra or missing limbs
  • branching limbs
  • spikes or protuberances
  • missing eyes
  • abnormal webbing
internal malformations
Internal Malformations
  • reproductive
  • digestive
  • urinary
causes of malformations
Causes of Malformations
  • genetic origins
  • parasite disruption of limb formation
  • chemical contamination
  • viruses
  • ultraviolet radiation
  • physical trauma (predation,


Trematode (flatworm) cysts have been demonstrated to cause problems in limb bud development in tadpoles

Dr. Stanley K. Sessions, Hartwick College

possible chemical contaminants
Possible Chemical Contaminants
  • agrochemicals
  • heavy metals
  • acid rain
  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
types of agrochemicals
Types of Agrochemicals
  • herbicides


  • pesticides


  • fertilizers

Dr. Stanley K. Sessions,

Hartwick College

types of agrochemicals29
Types of Agrochemicals

applications of the herbicide atrazine have led to egg mortality and tadpole deformities (Hazelwood 1970)

Dr. Stanley K. Sessions,

Hartwick College

correlations to human health concerns
Correlations to Human Health Concerns
  • high nitrate levels (from fertilizers) in human drinking water and frog breeding ponds are hazardous
  • human birth defects result from pesticideapplication
  • UV radiationresults in blindness and skin cancer in humans and other animals; DNA damage in developing frog eggs
Joan Chadde

Amphibian Malformation Survey of the Western Upper Peninsula Using Middle/High School Classes

where have all the frogs gone global amphibian decline
Where have all the frogs gone?Global Amphibian Decline
  • a concern during the past decade
  • frog declines widespread and well-documented
  • possible causes include habitat destruction, increased UV radiation, and chemical contamination
global population declines
Global Population Declines
  • Loss of habitat

from filling in wetlands to create more farmland for crops, and to build more houses and roads

(Case of the Vanishing Frogs, T. Halliday and W. R. Heyer).

global population declines34
Global Population Declines
  • Increasing ultraviolet radiation
  • Pollution by chemicals
  • Acid rain
  • Pathogens
  • Parasites
  • Introduction of non-native species
global population declines35
Global Population Declines

Amphibian declines occurring in

locations where habitats relatively



Gastric Brooding Frog

last seen in wild in 1980s

global population declines36
Global Population Declines

Monteverde, Costa Rica:

Golden Toad

last seen 1988

global population declines37
Global Population Declines

Other places experiencing declines include:

Puerto Rico




U.S. Rocky Mountains

Cascade Mountain Range in Washington,

Oregon, and California

stakeholders interest groups
Stakeholders/Interest Groups


Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Environmental Protection Agency

Individual scientists promoting different hypotheses

Industry and Agriculture


Citizens (Adults and students)






Answer the

malformity and calling surveys
Malformity and Calling Surveys

Various types of surveys depending on your objectives

Malformity surveys: deal specifically with malformities in amphibians

Calling surveys: need to know the calls of anurans

terrestrial salamander monitoring

aquatic surveys

malformity and calling surveys42
Malformity and Calling Surveys

A Thousand Friends of Frogs has two surveys—

Malformity and Calling


malformity and calling surveys43
Malformity and Calling Surveys

Malformity survey

Protocols for collecting and reporting data.

Data collected andtransferred to scientists

Results on web site


Calling survey: Minnesota Frog Watch

Over 100 volunteers surveying in the state

Working with MN Dept. Natural Resources


malformity and calling surveys44
Malformity and Calling Surveys

North American Reporting Center for Amphibian Malformities (NARCAM)


Report data on the web

malformity and calling surveys45
Malformity and Calling Surveys

North American Amphibian

Monitoring Project (NAAMP)


Protocols for reporting data

State coordinators

malformity and calling surveys46
Malformity and Calling Surveys

What you need to know to survey?

Depends on type of survey conducted

ID of frogs, toads and salamanders—color, shape, etc.

Calls of frogs and toads

Let’s learn a few calls!!


Spring Peepers

malformity and calling surveys47
Malformity and Calling Surveys

Kristin Schuster

Science Teacher

Houghton Middle School


student activities
Student Activities

Other student activities

Student Reports on Project Web Site

Student Poetry

Student Writing

Student Art

celebrating amphibians

Celebrating amphibians






A Thousand Friends of Frogs




Audiotapes and Book