Frogs are Friends!

Earlier this week we talked about crabs and the impact the snow crab population, well the lack thereof, could have on the economy and the local and larger ecosystems. Today the topic is going to be focused on the amphibian populations. This whole thing starts off with frogs from the 80’s (again, a lack thereof and not overpopulation). Ecologists in Costa Rica and Panama noticed a dramatic decline in the number of frogs and salamanders. A fungal pathogen was infecting and killing them off at such a rapid rate that people were afraid that there would be a wave of local extinctions. In fact, there were 90 recorded extinctions and declines in more than 500 amphibian species (extinctions included in that value). It set off a chain reaction. Frogs and salamanders eat mosquitoes, which means that the number of amphibians can impact the number of mosquitoes, aka blood sucking disease vectors. You may recall that mosquitoes are responsible for spreading viruses like West Nile, Yellow Fever, or Zika. Fast-forward, the benefits of amphibian populations were studied and in 2020, there are some peer-reviewed studies that show that the fungal disease driven amphibian losses did in fact lead to a substantial increase in malaria cases in both Costa Rica and Panama. The increase in mosquito borne diseases was followed by the fungus driven culling of amphibians who consume the mosquitoes. In fact, the study followed the spread of the fungus from Costa Rica and Panama to other countries and tracked malaria cases from 1976 to 2016 and found a statistically significant relationship between the lack of amphibians and the increase of human malaria cases. The researchers attempted to do the same with other mosquito borne diseases, but found it was not as easy to get data on the incidence of those other diseases. Why are these findings significant? This is the first study that links wild amphibian population loss directly to human health. It may seem like an obvious cause and effect- the predator dies so the population of the prey goes unchecked and as a result exposure to the prey increases- but this particular link hasn’t really been studied to this extent. The closest we’ve gotten prior to this study is linking the increase in cases of certain diseases to mosquitoes and well the knowledge that there are other animals who eat mosquitoes. So yes, according to science, frogs are definitely good for you. Think about that the next time you see a frog, toad or salamander in your yard and maybe leave them alone so they can munch on those little blood sucking pests. For the latest in news and stock picks, don’t miss our podcast at