Listen to frogs singing!

29 August 2011 | News story

Ever heard a frog singing? Listen to six species of frog calls in Tamá Bi-national Park / Colombia. "The calls of frogs are essential to identify the species, because each species has a particular call", says project leader Aldemar Acevedo.



"Generally, the males sing to attract females, but there are other types of songs which are used to demarcate territory, in defence and in combat", says project leader Aldemar Acevedo.

The SOS-funded project is part of the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and is working closely with local communities. It focuses on conservation areas and species infected by the chytrid fungus.
 

The chytrid fungus - the worst amphibian disease 

In terms of its effect on biodiversity, chytridiomycosis is quite possibly the worst disease in recorded history. First identified in 1998, this potentially lethal skin disease is caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which has been detected on at least 287 species of amphibians from 36 countries. Chytridiomycosis has caused amphibian population declines in Australia, South America, North America, Central America, New Zealand, Europe, and Africa, and is likely responsible for over 100 species extinctions since the 1970's.

Why is it important to protect frogs?

Amphibians are part of a network connecting all plants, insects, birds, soil, and water across a whole ecosystem. Frogs are potentially useful in the search for new medicines that can cure us.  Thus, they are literally "hopping pharmacies". These little creatures keep preserving entire ecosystems, which imply potential benefits to us, so keeping ourselves involved in maintaining biodiversity is crucial. Conservation involves creating links between people and species that share the same space.
 

Reaching out to local communities - project Aldemar Acevedo tells his story

"Not only is it necessary to find the frogs, we need to explain to locals that they are in danger of becoming extinct and require our help", he says.

“Recently, Leandra, a girl from a remote village in one of the study sites asked me,
“what is a frog?”. I explained to her that frogs are the ones singing every night while she was sleeping in her hammock, and sometimes these little creatures are so small that she wouldn’t be able to see them. Leandra ran back to her house and repeated what I had said to her brother, Steven.

Leandra has been without schooling for about a year. One of the few rural schools was left without a teacher so Leandra, Steven and many other children only have what is called “popular knowledge” education. Therefore every step I take in the woods in search of a frog, each piece of information I find, is shared with those people who allowed me into their houses. I am the stranger with long hair and tattoos from a different kind of world who strongly believes that it is necessary to share this information, to show them the diversity they have right in front of their eyes, and to help them take care of it. I'm sure the seeds are being planted. Before going back to the city, Leandra said they knew what a frog was now. I told her that some are ugly and slimy but she said that she would look after them and take care of their home.”