December 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm #1776MikeKeymaster
Something killing frogs and salamanders in Yellowstone Park
Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone Park,
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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