Counting frogs: Why monitoring our amphibian populations is important

March 23, 2010

Amélie Perez is preparing to tally the number of amphibians in the Montreal area for the second summer in a row. The objective? To measure the impact of the invasive plant Phragmites australis, or common reed, on the amphibian populations of southern Quebec.

A graduate student in biology at the Université de Montréal, Perez intends to visit more than 50 swamps and lakes. Last year she spotted seven species: the grey treefrog, northern spring peeper, wood frog, green frog, northern leopard frog, bullfrog and the American toad. She captured and released 257 adults and 1600 tadpoles.

Phragmites australis comes from overseas and has spread in Quebec ecosystems at an alarming rate. Wherever it lays its roots, the neighboring biodiversity is threatened and biologists are increasingly interested how plants and animals either adapt or disappear from that ecosystem.

"The analysis is far from over," says Perez. "Initial findings show that there is a slight decrease in wherever Phragmites australis grows - except northern leopard frog populations, which seem intact."

The last leg of her research will be experimental. Perez will put eggs, tadpoles and colonies of Phragmites australis in controlled water basins to see how pH levels, oxygen and temperature are affected.

As a European, Perez moved to Quebec to explore its natural ecosystems and abundant biodiversity. She quickly learned, however, that the natural treasure is far from secure. More than a third of Quebec's amphibian species are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That number could increase if Quebec wetlands and natural habitats aren't protected.

"The disruption of aquatic landscapes (increased agriculture, disappearing of wetlands) is the number one reason for the decline in populations," says Perez. "The invasion of these wetlands by exotic plants could be just as disastrous."

Perez' research, which is supported by Ducks Unlimited Canada, is being supervised by Jacques Brisson, a researcher at the Université de Montréal Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, and Marc Mazerolle, a professor at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Both are conducting a broad study of the impact of this invasive Phragmites australis in Quebec. Their work is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Explore further: Researchers identify new protein that triggers breast cancer

Related Stories

Noisy workplaces can make workers deaf

March 10, 2009

The majority of the 650,000 employees from Quebec's manufacturing sector - specifically those working in metallurgy and sawmilling - are exposed to noise levels that exceed governmental norms.

Ovary removal may increase lung cancer risk

July 21, 2009

Women who have premature menopause because of medical interventions are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer. The startling link was made ...

Insomnia is bad for the heart

September 4, 2009

Can't sleep at night? A new study published in the journal Sleep has found that people who suffer from insomnia have heightened nighttime blood pressure, which can lead to cardiac problems. The investigation, which measured ...

Ladybugs taken hostage by wasps

November 17, 2009

Are ladybugs being overtaken by wasps? A Université de Montréal entomologist is investigating a type of wasp (Dinocampus coccinellae) present in Quebec that forces ladybugs (Coccinella maculata) to carry their ...

Disclosing sexual abuse is critical

January 19, 2010

Half of sexual abuse survivors wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized, according to a collaborative study from the Université de Montréal, the Université du Québec à Montréal ...

Recommended for you

Research advances on transplant ward pathogen

August 28, 2015

The fungus Cryptococcus causes meningitis, a brain disease that kills about 1 million people each year—mainly those with impaired immune systems due to AIDS, cancer treatment or an organ transplant. It's difficult to treat ...

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.