January 21, 2009
Frog Overharvesting Threatens Populations

Frogs, members of the amphibian order Anura, make up 5000 species. Some of those species are getting hard hit by human consumption.

The global trade in frog legs for human consumption is threatening their extinction, according to a new study by an international team including University of Adelaide researchers.

The researchers say the global pattern of harvesting and decline of wild populations of frogs appears to be following the same path set by overexploitation of the seas and subsequent "chain reaction" of fisheries collapses around the world.

The researchers have called for mandatory certification of frog harvests to improve monitoring and help the development of sustainable harvest strategies.

Lots of frog eating going on.

The annual global trade in frogs for human consumption has increased over the past 20 years with at least 200 million and maybe over 1 billion frogs consumed every year. Only a fraction of the total trade is assessed in world trade figures.

The overharvesting comes on top of habitat loss due to increased human populations, industrialization, and spread of a killer chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd).

Where Bd thrives, generally moist cool habitats, 50% of amphibian species and 80% of individuals can be expected to disappear within 1 year (Lips et al. 2006; www.amphibianark.org/Lips%20et%20al%202006.pdf). Currently it cannot be stopped in the wild and a minority of species seem able to survive with a Bd infection as larvae or as adults and these animals likely serve as a reservoir and vectors for future outbreaks. Notable among resistant species are worldwide invasive pest species including marine toads, American bullfrogs and African clawed frogs.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 January 21 10:13 PM  Trends Extinction


Comments
Audacious Epigone said at January 22, 2009 5:35 AM:

From the wikipedia entry on the process of frog leg production in the US:

"Although rare to find in an eatery, people will go onto a river or pond/lake at night in a boat, shining a flashlight along the shore to see the light reflection in the frogs eyes. The light reflect off of the eye retina and immobilizes the frog. Paddling to the location of the frog while one person keeps the light in the eyes allows spearing the frog with a trident spear. The frogs will usually not die and are placed in a bag until later the next day when they can be cleaned. A cleaning method that works quite well is to hold the frog mouth using pliers. A utility knife can be used to sever the skin around the frog neck. Another pair of pliers are then used to hold the lower body portion of the skin which is then peeled off the body. Two fingers can then be placed in the frog throat and pulled out ripping the entrails out of the frog body leaving the front legs, back, and legs as one large assembly. This method has been used to capture and clean in about 2 hours (CIRCA 1955) as many as 100 large grandfather frogs in one night from sloughs along the Columbia River in Longview, Washington."

This fate has to befall several frogs just to provide a single person a single meal. Eat cows or chickens instead.

gcochran said at January 22, 2009 2:00 PM:

The chytrid infection is the major factor driving population declines and extinctions of frog species. Not UV, not the French.

Mthson said at January 25, 2009 12:34 AM:

"Eat cows or chickens instead."

In not too long, even that will be outdated.

http://www.slate.com/id/2191705/ "Will Lab-Grown Meat Save the Planet?"

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