Amphibians tell us how true nature is – the object of science

Amphibians include frogs, toads, and salamanders. There is a lot to read about these animals in ancient myths, legends, and other stories, mainly because people often viewed them as mysterious creatures. You probably know the story where a princess kisses a frog, who then turns into a prince. In the original version of the story by the Brothers Grimm, the Frog Princess did not kiss at all. on the contrary! Instead of getting a kiss, the poor frog was forcefully thrown against a wall to achieve the impressive transformation into a human. But the fairy tale has been stripped of those sharp edges over time to make the story more animal-friendly and less scary for children.

Rewriting fairy tales and the changing nature

Today we know a lot about amphibians. It’s not as mysterious as our ancestors thought, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting! Amphibians perform important ecological and economic roles within ecosystems. Whether in water or on land, they are indispensable in the natural food chain and without amphibians, ecosystems would likely collapse.

And nature does not always work so well: just as humans have rewritten so many fairy tales, we have changed the wild habitats of many animals around the world! The only difference is that unfortunately this did not always lead to a better situation for the animals. This also applies to amphibians, an animal group that appears to be important in checking environmental quality.

Manon studies salamanders in Dutch forests. curious? Check out this blog!

Nienke Prins for NEMO Kennislink

The importance of amphibians in nature and science

Amphibians keep insect populations, and therefore pests, in check. They help control algal blooms in the water and provide natural material breakdown and nutrient cycling through waste removal. They also improve soil quality by digging burrows (following the more famous example of earthworms). But perhaps most importantly, they are an important source of food for various types of organisms, including animals such as; Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and even other amphibians! And in some societies, humans also depend on amphibians as a food source.

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In addition to all these natural functions, amphibians are also developing medicine and science, where they are studied as “model organisms”. For example, frogs are often studied in studies of embryology, development, and toxicology. And the salamander, for example, is the focus of all kinds of studies on its amazing ability to regrow lost limbs and other body parts! Thus amphibian biology teaches us a great deal about development, health, and natural processes.

The sensitive skin of amphibians lectures us!

Because amphibians typically have moist, delicate skin that is highly permeable to water-soluble molecules and nutrients, they depend on a clean, high-quality environment for their health and survival. In polluted environments, in fragmented habitats, or in areas that are rapidly changing due to global warming and the effects of climate change, amphibians are one of the first groups of animals to disappear. This is why they are considered “biological indicators”: if they are present, that’s a good sign! But if they disappear, then this may be a warning …

The four original newt species that occur in the Netherlands. curious? Check out this blog!

Nienke Prins for NEMO Kennislink

Amphibians, our beneficial biomarkers, are endangered

Amphibians are in trouble now. Despite conservation efforts, this group of animals is facing an extinction crisis. This is worrisome precisely because amphibians represent a healthy environment – something that is also directly relevant to human health. The world famous Sir David Attenborough said:

“Amphibians are the lifeblood of many environments and play key roles in ecosystem function, and it is staggering and terrifying that the world will lose half of all these species in just a few decades.”

You can read more about why amphibians are not doing well here: “Six Reasons Behind the Global Decline of Amphibians”.

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My wish: a metaphorical kiss for all amphibians!

We have already reversed the fairy tale: the princess respects and kisses the frog, rather than tossing it around. Kissing frogs and salamanders The real life Not a good idea and therefore not recommended (fortunately few people will regret it). But the least we can do for amphibians in the modern world is to recognize sooner than (too late) that they reflect the health and natural beauty of the planet—and thus support it. Underneath their delicate, gorgeous skin, they may not be princes, but they are something much better: pointers of life. Amphibians need a metaphorical kiss from humans to thrive.

This is why so many scientists study amphibians and why conservationists around the world are taking action to protect amphibians in the wild. There is a growing call to reduce pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture and a growing sense of responsibility to reduce the use of pollutants by industries, as well as by households. It’s simple: the cleaner and more natural the environment, the more amphibians are drawn to it. So the next time you see a frog hopping around in your yard, or a salamander swimming in your pond, take a moment to appreciate the importance of their presence. Wonders really are not of the world!

Valencia-Aguilar, A., Cortés-Gómez, AM & Ruiz-Agudelo, CA (2013) Ecosystem Services Provided by Amphibians and Reptiles in Neotropical Ecosystems International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services and Management, 9:3, 257 -272, DOI: 10.1080/21513732.2013.821168

West, J.; (2018). Importance of amphibians: a synthesis of their ecological functions, benefits to humans, and need for conservation. in BSU Honors Program dissertations and projects. Section 261. is in

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Hocking, DJ & Babbitt, KJ “Amphibian Contributions to Ecosystem Services.” Conservation Herpetology and Biology (2014).

Fairy tale and the frog’s kiss wallpaper

Guardian article on wildlife conservation

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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