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Frogs CuteWhether it’s a Green Treefrog stuck to your kitchen window on a warm, rainy summer night or a lively chorus of Spring Peepers announcing the coming of spring, we have all either seen or heard one of Virginia’s 28 species of frogs (and toads). But did you know that frogs are considered by many conservationists to be the most imperiled group of animals in the world? Almost 50% of the world’s frog species are imperiled. Some have even gone extinct in the past couple of decades. The causes of these disappearances have been primarily associated with habitat loss and disease, specifically the deadly fungus commonly known as “chytrid.”
About Frogs are a familiar part of the wildlife of Massachusetts, and they’re found all across the state. Because of their diverse habitat needs and sensitive skin, these amphibians are good indicators of the health of our environment. Learn More Frog Species in Massachusetts The frogs of Massachusetts come in many colors, and they inhabit a variety of habitats, from lakes to trees to woodlands. The 10 species in Massachusetts belong to four scientific families. Learn More
Frogs are important natural resources that deserve our attention. Because of their aquatic and terrestrial life stages, frogs are excellent indicators of environmental health and water quality. Frogs also provide a free pest control service by consuming countless numbers of insects every year; in turn, they are food for a variety of other animals.
Acknowledging the importance of frogs and the concern over their decline, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been working in partnership with the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP), Virginia Living Museum and citizen biologists to monitor trends in frog populations across the Commonwealth. We have also been restoring wetlands and acquiring new lands for wildlife conservation.
Frogs typically lay their eggs in water. The eggs hatch into aquatic larvae called tadpoles that have tails and internal gills. They have highly specialized rasping mouth parts suitable for herbivorous, omnivorous or planktivorous diets. The life cycle is completed when they metamorphose into adults. A few species deposit eggs on land or bypass the tadpole stage. Adult frogs generally have a carnivorous diet consisting of small invertebrates, but omnivorous species exist and a few feed on fruit. Frog skin has a rich microbiome which is important to their health. Frogs are extremely efficient at converting what they eat into body mass. They are an important food source for predators and part of the food web dynamics of many of the world's ecosystems. The skin is semi-permeable, making them susceptible to dehydration, so they either live in moist places or have special adaptations to deal with dry habitats. Frogs produce a wide range of vocalizations, particularly in their breeding season, and exhibit many different kinds of complex behaviours to attract mates, to fend off predators and to generally survive.
The Anura include all modern frogs and any fossil species that fit within the anuran definition. The characteristics of anuran adults include: 9 or fewer presacral vertebrae, the presence of a urostyle formed of fused vertebrae, no tail, a long and forward-sloping ilium, shorter fore limbs than hind limbs, radius and ulna fused, tibia and fibula fused, elongated ankle bones, absence of a prefrontal bone, presence of a hyoid plate, a lower jaw without teeth (with the exception of Gastrotheca guentheri) consisting of three pairs of bones (angulosplenial, dentary, and mentomeckelian, with the last pair being absent in Pipoidea), an unsupported tongue, lymph spaces underneath the skin, and a muscle, the protractor lentis, attached to the lens of the eye. The anuran larva or tadpole has a single central respiratory spiracle and mouthparts consisting of keratinous beaks and denticles.
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