A component in the skin of the endangered phantasmal poison frog is 200 more times effective than morphine and non-addictive.
re-release. The chytrid fungus still remains in the area, with ecosystem and partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife no known method of eradication, and growing in lethality. Agency, USGS, San Antonio Zoo, University of Missouri, According to Mark, “the more out of balance an ecosystem, Virginia Tech, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation the more lethal the disease becomes.” Professor Tyrone Commission and others. Hayes, U.C. Berkeley, released a study in 2006 positing Conserving amphibians is important for many reasons. agricultural chemical drift, and specifically the most Here in the South, we should be especially grateful for popular herbicide worldwide, atrazine, is compounding the their voracious bug consumption, and even better, spotted problem. Amphibians exposed to atrazine suffer suppressed salamanders are mosquito-eating experts! Mark says a mere immune systems, making them more susceptible to the 1,000 amphibians can eat five million bugs a year! Due to chytrid fungus. amphibian’s highly sensitive skin they are the first to show In the U.S. and specifically Georgia, amphibians are imbalances in the ecosystem. At ABG frogs can only be becoming increasingly endangered from habitat loss. For sprayed with “frog water” because if tap water was used, they eight years ABG has collaborated with Zoo Atlanta and would all die. There are some very important lessons there! Georgia Department of Natural Amphibians are also a critical Resources on a headstart program part of the food chain as popular for our rarest frog, the Gopher prey, and bug-eating predator. frog. They collect eggs every year, To humans, amphibians can raise the tadpoles up through have big health implications. For metamorphosis and release the example, a pharmaceutical study baby frogs in protected habitats revealed a compound in the skin in South Georgia. Their habitat, of the endangered Phantasmal the longleaf pine ecosystem, has poison frog is 200 times more been reduced by 97%. Other effective than morphine and nonanimals adversely affected by this addictive. In a healthy ecosystem, if you weighed all the reduction are the gopher tortoise, Atlanta residents can learn more spotted salamanders they would weigh more than all the mammals and birds combined! indigo snake and Mark’s favorite, about amphibian conservation the flatwoods salamander. from exhibits in the ABG The flatwoods salamander is a peculiar species that has conservatory every day at 11 a.m. They can also join Mark’s never been kept successfully in captivity. But Mark and hugely popular Metro Atlanta Amphibian Monitoring his team are trying to change that. They currently have Program. He gives workshops on how to identify and three adult salamanders and hope to go to 18 this season. monitor frogs and salamanders in your backyard. On the Flatwoods salamanders live underground until they emerge website, maamp.us, Mark has information, call recordings to return to the same small pond they were born in to breed. and pictures of each life stage of all 28 species we have in They have not been detected in South Carolina for six years, Atlanta. Outside the Southeast, you can visit amphibianark. very few last year in Georgia and none this year. Fortunately org to learn more about amphibian conservation. a broad coalition is working to restore their habitat. ABG’s Amphibians saw the dinosaurs come and go, surely we plant conservation efforts have targeted this endangered can save them now! Southern Seasons Magazine