Saturday, October 8, 2011

Help Solve The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs

Frogs of the world need you to be a science detective and help solve a scientific mystery. Scientists investigate real world problems and work to find solutions. Right now, scientists are working on The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs (Millbrook, 2011). They're after a serial killer--one guilty of killing so many frogs that some kinds no longer exist outside of safe places, like zoos.

So if you're ready to join the science detective task force for this case, check out a copy of the book and dig in.

Can you identify the killer in time to save the Panamanian golden frogs?

Can you find a way to stop this killer before even more kinds of frogs become victims?

Karen Lips discovered the first frog victims. Read pages 6 and 7 to find out:

1) When did she make this discovery?
2) Where in the world were the bodies?
3) Why was it important that the dead frogs were not decayed?

Just as detectives get help from a Medical Examiner, Karen Lips turned to a pathologist, someone who studies diseases.

Here's the clue the pathologist discovered when he looked at a sample of the frog victim's skin with a microscope. Check it out on page 8. He reported that it wasn't like anything he'd ever seen before.

So Karen Lips decided to check out the three usual suspects that kill animals:

*Habitat (home territory) Destruction


*Climate Change

Keep on reading to investigate and learn the answers to following questions.

What kind of habitat do Panamanian golden frogs need to be healthy? Find out on pages 10 and 11.

Why was habitat destruction proved not guilty of killing the golden frogs? Find out on page 9.

Why would polluted streams be a big problem for adult golden frogs?

Why would polluted water be especially bad for tadpoles, baby golden frogs?

Before you decide, visit this site to see the stages a frog goes through from egg to adult.

Why did Karen decide water pollution definitely wasn't killing the golden frogs?
See page 12.

What two things did Karen Lips then check out to prove climate change wasn’t the frog killer? Check page 14.

Joyce Longcore finally identified the frog killer as a chytrid fungus, a kind of plantlike living things. What did she see that let her figure out this was the killer? Dig into this on pages 18 and 19

Because she was the first to identify this new kind of chytrid fungus, Joyce was allowed to name it. She called it Batachochytrium dendrobatidis--Bd for short.

Now that the killer's identity is known, your job is to stop it from killing more golden frogs.

So you'll need to find out these two things about how this killer attacks its victims? Use the clues you've already discovered to answer these questions.

1) Who's more at risk--adult golden frogs or tadpoles?

2) In what kinds of environmental conditions is Bd most likely to kill?

Armed with that profile of the killer you can help the scientific SWAT team save Panamanian golden frogs from being killed by Bd.

Read pages 32 through 38 to find out which of the steps listed below needs to be done first, second, third, and so forth.

*Carry golden frogs in plastic bags to cleaning sites.
*Ship healthy frogs to zoos with special golden frog habitats.
*Breed golden frogs in zoo habitats to maintain the golden frog population.
*Collect both male and female golden frogs from their wild habitat.
*Treat captured golden frogs with a fungus-killing chemical for ten days.

What are two things being done to try and wipe out chytrids so frogs can be safe in the wild? Explore pages 40 and 41.

Brainstorm other possible things you think could be tried to make frogs safe from chytrids in the wild. Come up with at least two possibilities. List why these ideas might work? Suggest any possible reasons these ideas might not work.

Now, it's time to use what you've learned to launch OPERATION SAVE OUR FROGS.
First, find out what kinds of frogs, such as bullfrogs or leopard frogs, live in your area. Ask a local park ranger, someone at the local library, or someone at a local zoo.


Leopard frog

Next, learn more about each kind of local frog and make a booklet with a chapter for each local kind of frog. Draw and color a picture of it. Also tell the following information:

*How big is an adult?
*What does it eat as an adult? As a tadpole?
*What kind of conditions does it need to live as an adult? As a tadpole?

Find out if chytrids are a problem locally and, if so, what can be done to protect the frogs. Would one of the ideas you had for getting rid of chytrids possibly work? If you think it would, share your idea with someone in your local environmental protection agency or with your teacher.

Also, check whether local frogs could be in danger from any of the usual suspects: habitat destruction, water pollution, climate change.

Search for the following clues:
1) Signs of habitat destruction, such as bare eroded land that was once green fields or forests.

2) Sources of water pollution, such as factories near rivers, streams, or lakes.

3) Evidence of climate change. To dig up information about this clue, interview your parents and grandparents. Ask if they remember your local climate being warmer or cooler or dryer or wetter in the past.

If you discover any of these clues, brainstorm with your friends and family and plan ways you can help your local frogs. Then work together to help local frogs stay safe.

Check out these efforts being done to save frogs around the world.

Are frogs worth so much detective work and effort?

Definitely! Without frogs there would be lots more insects in the world eating our food crops and spreading diseases to plants, animals, and people.

We need to solve The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs for the sake of Panimanian golden frogs, all the world's frogs--and for ourselves.

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