Signs of Spring Everywhere Update: March 15, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Journey North participants are suddenly hearing frogs singing in many areas. A few examples:
Listen for the Sounds of Spring!
Which frogs live near you? Check any field guide to amphibians where you'll find a range map for these species.
It's Not Easy Being Green
Frogs and other amphibians have had serious problems in past decades. Some hatch with deformities. Numbers are dropping in many areas throughout the world. Part of the problem is the loss of wetlands, and part seems to be environmental contaminants. Many frogs lay their eggs in temporary ponds formed from melting snow. Falling snow is no more acidic than rain, but ponds formed from snow melt are often very acidic compared to other ponds.
Challenge Question # 8
"Why are puddles formed from melting snow more acidic than other ponds in most areas?"
Scientists Work to Solve Frog Problems
The first step in figuring out what is going wrong with frogs is to keep track of their populations. Scientists at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center have started a Frog Monitoring Project, and have also designed some classroom projects.
Right when the first frogs are calling, we start noticing other signs of spring. Some of the birds that return close to the time that frogs emerge include the:
Some of these birds return north at this time in part BECAUSE the frogs are emerging. For some, the timing is just a coincidence. Do a little research on these birds and try to answer
Discussion of Challenge Question # 7
We asked why you think redwings return just as marshes are thawing each spring. John, Stephen and Julie in Ms. Thurber's second grade class explained it very clearly: "We think that red wings return as the marshes are thawing because they eat a lot of invertebrates and insects in the spring. Most inverterbrates live in water and a lot of insects live near or on the water. A marsh is a wetland and for birds to be able to get to the invertebrates, the ice must be melted."
Also, during the long winter, some aquatic insects and fish die, and if they float to the top, pieces of their bodies get embedded in the ice, or start spewing out through cracks as the ice breaks up. Some plant matter also gets stuck in the ice. Red-wings, crows, and grackles often walk on the surface of the ice as it's breaking up and take this "detritus" before it sinks to the bottom of the water when the ice disappears.
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question
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The next Signs of Spring Everywhere Update will be posted March 29, 1999
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