Menacing Bullfrogs – Ultimate Predator
Music; Ambience: bullfrogs
With their camouflaged colored skin, these hungry predators lie in wait for their next meal, which is – virtually anything they can swallow. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The American bullfrog used to be found from Florida up to Canada, but only as far west as New Mexico. The desert blocked the westward migration of these aquatic amphibians, that is, until humans first introduced them to California in the late 1800’s. Well, today, as they continue to multiply, eating anything alive that’s smaller than they are, bullfrogs are bringing some local populations of other frogs and snakes to the brink of extinction. Cecil Schwalbe is with the U.S. Geological Survey in Arizona. He says that in the Southwest, these voracious frogs have irrevocably altered their local habitats.
“A lot of people lament the loss of these natural systems. The disappearance of species means a loss in biodiversity and a loss of ecosystems a lot of us have known.”
Poisons, traps and other methods of control work in the short term, but according to Cecil Schwalbe, there’s only one way to get rid of bullfrogs in the western United States.
“The bullfrog is maintained artificially in these man made ponds. Let’s say, maybe there’s an epidemic that wipes out mostly humans, or we have an asteroid, or something, and it eliminates humans who no longer maintain these artificial ponds out here in the west. Well, then the bullfrog will disappear probably then. But then evolution will just have to take over, take its thousands, or millions of years to develop the more organisms that are fit for the environment.”
Well, let’s hope we can find a less radical solution or else learn to live with hungry amphibians. Frogs’ legs, anyone?
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.