Frogs and salamanders in Yellowstone Park – 10/29/2008

  • December 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm #1776

    Something killing frogs and salamanders in Yellowstone Park
    from “ammmjm”

    Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone Park,
    Researchers Say

    Or is it geoengineering, chemtrails, spraying toxic metals into our atmosphere? — MC

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 29, 2008) — Frogs and salamanders, those amphibious
    bellwethers of environmental danger, are being killed in Yellowstone
    National Park. The predator, Stanford researchers say, is global warming.

    Biology graduate student Sarah McMenamin spent three summers in a
    remote area of the park searching for frogs and salamanders in ponds
    that had been surveyed 15 years ago. Almost everywhere she looked, she
    found a catastrophic decrease in the population.

    The amphibians need the ponds for their young to hatch, but high
    temperatures and drought are drying up the water. The frogs and
    salamanders lay eggs that have a gelatinous outer layer—basically
    “jelly eggs,” McMenamin says—that leaves them completely unsuitable
    for gestation on land. If the ponds dry up, so do the eggs. “If there
    isn’t any water, then the animals simply don’t breed,” she said.

    Biology Associate Professor Elizabeth Hadly, McMenamin’s graduate
    adviser and co-author of a research paper published this week on the
    website of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has
    worked in Yellowstone since 1981 and has witnessed the ponds going
    dry. “They’re just blinking off,” she said. “It’s depressing.”

    “Precipitous declines of purportedly unthreatened amphibians in the
    world’s oldest nature reserve indicate that the ecological effects of
    global warming are even more profound and are happening more rapidly
    than previously anticipated,” the researchers wrote.

    The disappearing ponds lie in picturesque northern Yellowstone,
    specifically the lower Lamar Valley, which holds dozens of small
    fishless ponds where the habitat has been ideal for the breeding and
    larval development of blotched tiger salamanders, boreal chorus frogs
    and Colombia spotted frogs. As the world’s first national park, it is
    one of the most environmentally protected areas in the world.

    The researchers studied climate and water records going back a
    century, ranging from handwritten logs of water flow in the Lamar
    River to satellite imagery, and could find no cause for the drying
    ponds other than a persistent change in temperature and precipitation.
    “It’s the cumulative effects of climate,” Hadly said.

    During the summers of 2006 through 2008, McMenamin, wearing hip waders
    and carrying a dip net, cataloged the amphibian life—or lack
    thereof—in and around 42 ponds that had been surveyed in 1992-1993. In
    that earlier survey, involving 46 ponds, 43 supported amphibian
    populations for at least one of the two years. But in the recent
    inspection, only 38 of those same ponds even contained water in summer.

    In their fieldwork, the researchers were able to visit 31 of the 38
    wet ponds (the remainder were off limits, to protect nesting trumpeter
    swans). Only 21 of them supported amphibian populations for even one
    of the three years they were checked, 2006-2008. In 15 years the
    number of ponds with frogs and salamanders had dropped drastically.

    “That’s when we really got alarmed, because the data just showed such
    a huge difference,” Hadly said.

    Historically, the ponds—as small as backyard fish ponds, as large as
    small lakes—have been recharged during the summer by the groundwater
    in the soil. But the water table is dropping, the researchers say, as
    human-induced climate change produces a deadly combination of higher
    temperatures and less rain and snow. Moreover, the seasonal wetlands
    near the ponds, usually ideal amphibian habitat, are evaporating
    earlier in the spring, the result of an earlier snowmelt.

    During the course of their study, the researchers witnessed the loss
    of four amphibian communities because of pond drying. Each event left
    hundreds of dried tiger salamander corpses behind. The ponds had dried
    rapidly, over just a few days, too fast for larvae to metamorphose and
    adults to migrate.

    “Everybody can identify with the loss of glaciers, but in Yellowstone
    the decrease in lakes and ponds and wetlands has been astounding,”
    John Varley, the former chief scientist for Yellowstone, told New
    West. “What were considered permanent bodies of water, meaning
    reference was given to them in the 1850s, ’60s and ’70s, and bestowed
    with a name as a lake, are now gone. Some wetlands that were
    considered permanent ponds are no longer there. Some lakes have become

    The problem is not going to go away, McMenamin said. “It’s extremely
    depressing and there aren’t any evident solutions that come to mind.
    It’s a symptom of a much, much larger problem.”



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