Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amphibians as environmental omen disputed

Date:
November 30, 2009
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Amphibians, for years considered a leading indicator of environmental degradation, are not uniquely susceptible to pollution, according to a new meta-analysis.

Amphibians, for years considered a leading indicator of environmental degradation, are not uniquely susceptible to pollution, according to a meta-analysis to be published in Ecology Letters.
Credit: iStockphoto/Shaun Lowe

Amphibians, for years considered a leading indicator of environmental degradation, are not uniquely susceptible to pollution, according to a meta-analysis to be published in Ecology Letters.

After a review of over 28,000 toxicological tests, researchers from the University of South Dakota, Yale University and Washington State University are challenging the prevailing view that amphibians, with their permeable skin and aquatic environment, are particularly sensitive to environmental threats and, as such, are "canaries," or predictors of environmental decline.

"The very simple message is that for most of the classes of chemical compounds we looked at, frogs range from being moderately susceptible to being bullet-proof," said David Skelly, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a member of the research team. "There are lots of other kinds of environmental threats that have led to their decline, including habitat conversion, harvesting for food and the global spread of the Chytrid fungus, which is mowing down these species in its path."

The team, led by Jacob Kerby, an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota, based its analysis on information gleaned from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Aquatic Toxicity Information Retrieval database, examining 1,279 species, among them segmented worms, fish, bivalves such as clams, insects and snails. Those species were exposed in water to various concentrations of 107 chemical agents, including inorganic chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and phenols, a class of chemical compound.

"What our results suggest is that all animals are susceptible to chemical stressors and that amphibians are potentially good indicators," said Kerby. "There isn't any evidence that they're a uniquely leading indicator. We tried to be comprehensive in the types of chemicals and organisms that we examined."

In light of the findings, Skelly said, scientists should evaluate the absence, presence or abundance of amphibians in wild populations as "signals" of potential exposure to different chemicals in the environment. "If we have such an understanding for several species, we may be able to use their responses, collectively, as a means of narrowing potential causes of environmental degradation," he said.

The EPA, according to the paper, uses African Clawed Frogs as a proxy for biological diversity when determining a species' sensitivity to chemical exposures, even though that particular species does not occur naturally in North America. "Our knowledge of amphibians' sensitivity to particular chemicals or classes of chemicals has not been used to design assays for effects in nature," Skelly said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kerby et al. An examination of amphibian sensitivity to environmental contaminants: are amphibians poor canaries? Ecology Letters, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01399.x

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Amphibians as environmental omen disputed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111092051.htm>.
Yale University. (2009, November 30). Amphibians as environmental omen disputed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111092051.htm
Yale University. "Amphibians as environmental omen disputed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111092051.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

Pakistan's 'killer Mountain' Fails to Draw Tourists After Attack

AFP (Sep. 12, 2014) — In June 2013, 10 foreign mountaineers and their guide were murdered on Nanga Parbat, an iconic peak that stands at 8,126m tall in northern Pakisan. Duration: 02:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

The Ozone Layer Is Recovering, But It's Not All Good News

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The Ozone layer is recovering thickness! Hooray! But in helping its recovery, we may have also helped put more greenhouse gases out there. Hooray? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins