Frogs endangered

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Frogs endangered

Frogs such as this lemur leaf frog are threatened by a fungus that can kill up to 90 percent of amphibians in a stream.

Photo by: Special

For more than a decade scientists have documented how a fungus has decimated amphibian populations worldwide, but they knew little about how the loss of frogs alters a larger ecosystem. A UGA study that is the first to comprehensively examine an ecosystem before and after an amphibian population decline has found that tadpoles play a key role keeping the algae at the base of the food chain productive. “Many things that live in the stream depend on algae as a base food resource,” says lead author Scott Connelly, a doctoral student who will graduate this month from the UGA Odum School of Ecology. “And we found that the system was more productive when the tadpoles were there.” The results, which appear in the early online edition of the journal Ecosystems, demonstrate how the grazing activities of tadpoles help keep a stream healthy.