What is the greatest mass extinction since the dinosaurs?
Population by population, species by species, amphibians are vanishing off the face of the Earth. Despite international alarm and a decade and a half of scientists scrambling for answers, the steady disappearance of amphibians continues.
Large scale die-offs of frogs around the world have prompted scientists to take desperate measures to try to save those frogs they can, even bathing frogs in Clorox solutions and keeping them in Tupperware boxes under carefully controlled conditions to prevent the spread of a deadly fungus.
Will it ever be safe to return the frogs back to the ecosystem from which they were taken?
One example here in New Jersey is the southern gray treefrog. This arboreal amphibian is equipped with large toe pads that enable it to cling to trees. These treefrogs can alter their coloration based on their activities or environmental conditions.
Because of its limited distribution in the state and the destruction of its habitat, the
southern gray treefrog was listed as an endangered species in New Jersey in 1979.
Since then, biologists have conducted research to determine the distribution, habitat use, and breeding ecology of the southern gray treefrog in New Jersey. Currently, efforts are being made to protect treefrog habitats on a comprehensive landscape level as well as on an individual wetland basis. Documented breeding ponds, as well as surrounding buffers of 150 to 300 feet, are protected under New Jersey land use regulations, including the Freshwater Wetlands Act and the Coastal Area Facilities Review.
Frogs: The Thin Green Line is one of many PBS videos from the series Nature that are now available online. Many also have Web-exclusive videos. In this program, you can see the effects of the chytrid fungus that may be the key to why one-third of amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
Watch the full Nature episode