Fracts #3 – The effects of Globalisation on frogs

Globalisation is an intensively debated topic and encompasses many different areas. For this article, we shall define globalisation as the intensification of trade within nations, specifically the import and export of frogs. Frogs can be found in almost every corner of the Earth and this had allowed them to diversify into 4000 types including toads. Each species of frog has it’s own niche that enables them to thrive in their environment, hence making them the best bioindicators to study the ecosystem.

Quoted by Charles Darwin,

“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”

For example, tadpoles keep waterways clean by feeding on algae. Adult frogs eat large quantities of insects, including disease vectors that can transmit fatal illnesses to humans (i.e. mosquitoes/malaria). Frogs also serve as an important food source to a diverse array of predators, including dragonflies, fish, snakes, birds, beetles, centipedes and even monkeys.

Thus, a decrease in frog populations disturbs an intricate food web, and results in negative impacts that cascade through the ecosystem.

In our previous Fracts #2, we have discussed how Scientists around the world had been using South African Clawed Frogs for research as well as conducting pregnancy test. In Fracts #3, we will be exploring the implications of such activity.

Yes, frogs may have adapted well to its environment. However, the introduction of foreign species not only increase competition of getting food and space, it also introduces new diseases and other threats (as introduced in our Fracts #1 – The Amphibian Crisis)

A case study

Inadvertently introduced to Australia when the African clawed frog was imported for use in a pregnancy test, chytrid fungus is a global problem threatening all species of frogs, including Australia’s critically endangered southern corroboree frog and the stuttering frog.

A water-borne disease, chytrid fungus attacks the keratin in the skin around the animal’s feet and under the mouth. The theory is that this effects the iron balance in the body, which has neurological effects. Infected frogs become lethargic and unable to eat but probably die

There is currently no treatment or effective infection control for the fungus in the wild.

In conclusion, the balance of the ecosystem is fragile in such a way that any slight change/introduction of an animal population may cause irreversible damage to a habitat.

The ability of humans to manipulate nature is a disadvantage but it is also a great asset. Therefore, each and everyone of us can make a difference by changing our perception of the world and that we are not living alone on this one and only Blue Planet called Earth.

Niche – the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.


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