How a frog saved the Planet

DSCF0063You must think I am crazy or want to lure readers by placing a sensationalist title. How can one single frog save the Planet? But, it’s been raining for the past couple of days and frogs came out to play on the grass surfaces of my city, except what used to be 10 frogs is now just 3. I first noticed the decrease of frog population in my city of Skopje earlier this summer. Ofcourse I thought nothing of it at first, but then I got to thinking how frogs eat mosquitoes and other insects and in doing so keep their population controlled, and what about all the wild birds and creatures that feed on frogs!? What if the number of mosquitoes rises and number of birds decrease!? How will we survive in this new environment and what will it look like? It was at that point when I became afraid, for the people, the birds, but mostly afraid for all the frogs disappearing…

I began reading about frogs and found out that their skin is permeable and so easily absorbs toxins found in their living environment- from bodies of water and from the air. This is why scientists use frogs as indicators of pollution in the waters and air. Wow, right!? And what the scientific world is also discovering is a multitude of mutations and cancers in frogs that live in this polluted environment.

Skopje is now battling a constant rise in air pollution. According to the official web site for air quality by The Macedonian Ministry of environment PM10 dust particles go beyond 300 milligrams per square meter almost every night, when the upper limit according to the World Health Organization is 50 milligrams of PM10 per square meter. CO2 levels are also very high in the city. People’s health is seriously compromised. No wonder frogs are dying.

In my research I also learned that although frogs alone do not help keep mosquito numbers in check, as there are also other species that feed on them, the frogs play an important part because despite the fact that they can eat about 100 mosquitoes in one night, frogs and tadpoles are also food for other species that eat four times more mosquitoes than frogs themselves, like for example dragonflies. Now if you google dragonflies, it says they are natural mosquito killers, a big part of their diet happen to be tadpoles.

Frogs are also a big part of the diet for some species of birds. And birds pollinate plants, but also disperse the plant seeds so they help flora reproduce. Roughly put, if we take away food source for the birds, their numbers will decrease and so will greenery but also source of food for people. What frogs also do is feed on algae and water plants and by doing their daily munching they keep waterways clean so that the water doesn’t spill from it’s basin and play a part in helping to prevent flooding. Ecosystems are such a delicate and fragile web, aren’t they!?

What amazed me the most is that frogs are generally considered to be resilient creatures, I mean I know they adapt to conditions so well that they are capable to freeze themselves to survive extreme cold, and then revive themselves again when it gets warmer. And yet, we somehow managed to bring one- third of amphibian species to extinction. Which makes me think that there is something seriously wrong here, Earth is definitely dying.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of my favorite authors and it’s him that said: “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important“. I happen to agree with him, and although I do not think one frog will save this Planet, what I do think is that when people learn to work together with the smallest of things in nature, instead of playing the part of the dominant species, only then will we reverse the damage of climate change and have a future on this Planet.

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