Amphibians Whats so special about amphibians? Life Cycle: Double Life Physical Characteristics: Ectothermic Eggs Skin Three Orders of Amphibians Order Gymnophiona: Caecilians Order Anura: Frogs and Toads Order Caudata: Newts and Salamanders
Role in ecosystems Indicators of ecosystem health What you can do! Some amphibians of Washington Pacific tree frog (Pseudacris regilla)
Amphibian Life Cycle Amphi + Bios Both + Life Two double lives: 1. Aquatic and terrestrial life stages 2. Larval and adult body forms Roughskin newt (Taricha granulosa) Pacific tree frog (Pseudacris regilla)
Often called cold-blooded Body temperature determined by external (ecto) environment Can regulate body temperature by: movement (into sun or shade, body in relation to sun) evaporative cooling (if plenty of water available) skin color changes Long-toed salamander
(Ambystoma macrodactylum) Amphibian Eggs Similar in structure to fish eggs No hard shell or membrane Gelatinous covering, permeable to gases and liquids Usually laid in water or moist places (prone to drying out) External or internal fertilization Amphibian Skin
Only class of vertebrates with no protective skin covering (scales, feathers, hair/fur) Permeable skin (liquids and gases can pass across) Shed skin (but often consume sheds) Many skin glands (some exude toxic compounds) Roughskin newt walking over banana slug
Order Gymnophiona: Caecilians Legless, with rings around body (resembling earthworm segments) 5 inches - 4.5 feet Live underground, some species are aquatic Do not rely on eyesight Tentacles on either side of head used as smell and touch receptors Live in tropical regions Carnivorous
Sagalla caecilian Order Anura: Frogs and Toads Pacific treefrog (Pseudacris regilla) Great Basin spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus intermontanus) Frog and Toad Characteristics Larvae (tadpoles) are legless
but have tails; adults have four legs but are tailless Larvae are herbivorous; adults are carnivorous Hind legs adapted for hopping (toads) or leaping (frogs) Generally, frogs have smooth skin and live in or near water; toads have rough, warty skin and live in drier areas Western toad (Bufo boreas)
Red-legged frog (Rana aurora) Order Caudata: Newts and Salamanders Roughskin newt (Taricha granulosa) Tail in all life stages Carnivorous as larvae and adults Two pairs of limbs of approximately equal size
(exception: the Sirenidae family, which lack hind limbs) Oregon ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis) The roles of amphibians in ecosystems Frog and toad larvae feed on organic debris and algae contributing to the breakdown of organic matter and controlling algae growth Amphibians eat large numbers of invertebrates and provide an important step in the transfer of
energy up the food chain Although we dont see them, amphibians can be very densely distributed in habitats (especially salamanders in the temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest) Amphibians are a major food source for many freshwater fish Amphibians as indicators of ecosystem health 1. Aquatic and terrestrial life stages 2. Permeable skin and eggs 3. Susceptible to cold and desiccation (drying
out) 4. Food habits (tadpoles feed on muck, other amphibians are carnivorous) chemicals can accumulate at the surface and on the bottom of wetlands toxins can biomagnify as they are passed up the food chain in the fat tissue of animals Issues with Biomagnification What are they trying to tell us? 1. Habitat destruction (of wetlands and forests) has been a major factor in the decline of many species. However,
worldwide declines have also been documented in populations inhabiting areas not directly affected by human activity. 2. Not one factor has been singled out as the cause of recent declines in amphibian populations. However, a disease caused by a chytrid fungus has been implicated in numerous declines across the globe. Contributing factors include:
introduced species global climate change (including increased UV-B radiation) diseases and pathogens (esp. chytrid fungus) environmental toxins, such as pesticides Some of these factors also result in malformations of amphibians. What you can do! Opportunities for ensuring the survival of amphibians: Participate in wetlands habitat restoration Make schoolyards or backyards frog
friendly Participate in FrogWatch or other monitoring programs Be a responsible pet owner Minimize pollution Raise amphibian awareness Raise funds for amphibian conservation projects Some amphibians of Washington Pacific tree frog
(Pseudacris regilla) Some amphibians of Washington Red-legged frog (juvenile) (Rana aurora) Cascades frog (Rana cascadae) Some amphibians of Washington
Northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) Tailed frog (Ascaphus truei) Some amphibians of Washington Western redback salamander (Plethodon vehiculum) Olympic torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton olympicus)
American bullfrog: Rana catesbeiana An introduced species with big impacts! Bullfrogs were introduced to the western United States from the eastern United States in the early 1900s The introduced bullfrogs were hunted as game Bullfrogs are large frogs, up to 7 inches (17.5 cm) long or even longer Voracious predators, eating the young of other amphibians, reptiles, and even waterfowl
Carry the chytrid fungus but are not susceptible to the disease the fungus causes Adult male bullfrog Adult female bullfrog Photo Credits WPZ photos: Pacific tree frog, red-legged frog and long-toed salamander photos Katie Remine, WPZ Roughskin newt photos Margaret White, WPZ Blue poison dart frogs Mike Teller, WPZ
All WPZ photos property of Woodland Park Zoo. All rights reserved. All other photos: Caecilian photos by Dr. John Measey. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Washington state native frog and salamander photos by Dennis Desmond. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Bullfrog photos courtesy the Western Pond Turtle Project, Frank and Kate Slavens. Used with permission. All rights reserved. www.zoo.org
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