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Why Are Frogs Endangered?

You have probably heard that many frog species are endangered. The reasons why frogs are endangered often depend on the species, location, and circumstances, but human activity tends to generally be the main overarching reason frogs are endangered or going extinct.

Frogs are endangered due to human activity including deforestation, urbanization, roads separating migration areas, agriculture, surface drainage systems, pollution, diseases, invasive species, human intervention, and climate change.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these human activities that threaten frog species around the globe.

Deforestation Eliminates Frog Habitats

Deforestation consists in clearing land of trees and standing vegetation for non-forest use, notably urbanization and agriculture.

Removing trees and other vegetation eliminates the homes of frog species, especially for tree frog and land dwelling species including Spring Peeper, Wood Frogs, Australian Green Tree Frogs, Poison Dart Frogs, and toads.

Deforestation results in habitat damage, habitat loss, biodiversity loss, and aridity due to drying out the land. Deforestation can cause frog species to become endangered, go extinct, and can lead to profound climate change and global warming.

Deforestation is a problem all over the world, but is especially troublesome in the Amazon Rainforest which is home to a very wide diversity of frog species that are endangered due to this activity.

Urbanization Eliminates Frog Habitats

Urbanization consists in building over an area to expand a city or town into what was typically previously rural areas. 

With urbanization often comes the destruction of natural habitats to favour the construction of homes, offices, buildings, sidewalks, roadways, and parking lots. 

These man-made structures are placed overtop of what was previously wild or rural lands such as forests, marshes, and temporary wetlands which were homes to frogs.

With nowhere else to go, the frogs become endangered or extinct.

Why Frogs Are Endangered

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The Western Chorus Frog thrived along the Saint Laurence river in Quebec, Canada. But due to urbanization along this area, this frog is now listed as vulnerable to extinction in Quebec, and is an endangered species in many other parts of Canada. 

Roads Cause Thousands of Frog Deaths

Roads are sometimes built through forests, marshes, and other wetlands that frogs call home, thus separating these areas in two. Frogs often die trying to migrate across roads that divide their natural habitat.

Roads are one of the main reasons frogs die in the UK every year. In Ontario, Canada, over 1 million animals die on the roads every year, including thousands of frogs.

To counter this issue, there are associations, biologists, citizen science projects that facilitate frog migration by stopping traffic during their migration period, or by installing eco-tunnels that act as frog-crossings.

There was an eco-tunnel under a road that was built over a marsh near where I live. But the frog crossing was filled in due to need for repairs.

Hopefully they will reinstall it soon as these tunnels are an easy way to help avoid thousands of frog deaths every year.

Agriculture Uses Harsh Pesticides That Kill Frogs

Agriculture uses pesticides, herbicides, and other harsh chemicals that can have nefarious effects on frogs including mutations, extra limbs, death, and extinction.

The main reason for this is that frogs breathe and drink through their skin. Frogs have thin porous skin that absorbs what is in the water around them – good or bad. 

Can Frogs Change Gender?

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Organophosphates (OPEs) are found in many agriculture and industrial settings and are used when making furniture, electronics, and even plastics. They also leak into the environment and negatively affect water and air quality.

Frogs that are exposed to the pesticide Atrazine can become infertile, hindering their ability to reproduce. 

Surface Drainage Systems Eliminate Mating Areas

Agriculture also requires deforestation and appropriate surface drainage systems in order to function correctly. Surface drainage systems collect and eliminate pooling water through channels or ditches.

A photo I took of vernal pools of water where Western Chorus Frogs like to reproduce

However, some frog species use vernal or temporary pools of water to reproduce, notably after snowmelt in early spring. Collecting and eliminating natural wetlands dries out the locations making them unsuitable to frogs.

If the frogs cannot find another location to successfully reproduce, they often become endangered or go extinct. 

Pollution Seeps into Frog Skin

Much like pesticides, pollution can seep into frogs’ skin through osmosis

How Frogs Indicate Climate Change

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The pollution that affects frogs can come from a wide variety of locations including the air and in the water through road runoff, garbage, and decomposing man-made materials.

Pollution can cause sickness, deaths, and can endanger frog populations.

Frogs are considered bioindicators by scientists since they can help alert them if something is wrong within their natural habitat. If intervention is not taken to help, populations exposed to toxic pollution often die off.

Diseases Can Kill Frogs

Disease as a factor endangering frogs is a widespread problem in Australia. Chytridiomycosis, also known as amphibian chytrid fungus disease, is the main cause for frog deaths in Australia. 

This infectious disease affects amphibians worldwide, but is very well-known to Australians. It is caused by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).

The fungus causes sporadic deaths endangering some amphibian populations, but can cause up to 100% mortality rates in others, leading to extinction.

Invasive Species (Plants Animals)

According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), approximately 42% of endangered or threatened species are at risk due to invasive species on a broad scale.

Some frog species are also at risk due to predatory animals and invasive species.

Predatory animals are generally large animals that feed on anything that can fit into their mouths.

But other animals are not the only problem. Some frog species themselves can pose such risks.

Invasive Frog Species [Cane Toad]

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For example, American Bullfrogs and Cane Toads are large invasive species in some areas that feed on smaller frog species endangering their populations.

Frogs may also be in areas with large predatory fish such as Bass that feed on already declining populations including adult frogs, but also their eggs and tadpoles.

Some locations may be dried up due to invasive plant species that suck up all the water providing no water or space for frogs to reproduce.

Climate Change

Climate change is due to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Climate change has the effect of rising temperatures which directly affects frogs. Warmer temperatures dry up wetlands where frogs reproduce and pose a risk to their reproduction, development, and survival.

Warmer temperatures can also lead to less food. Warmer temperatures affect the entire food chain, and with less producers and consumers, frogs will not have as much to eat.

Human Intervention Can Kill Frogs

Human intervention that affects frogs includes the pet trade, taking frogs from the wild for dissection purposes, and wrongful handling.

For example, Leopard Frogs are endangered in some areas in Canada and the USA due to their overuse as subjects of dissections in schools.

Although these are not the main reasons frogs are going extinct, wrongful interaction with frogs by children or pets can harm them and encourage a decline in populations.

What You Can Do to Help Avoid Frog Extinction

There are associations, scientists, biologists, and concerned citizens who have been involved in helping protect their natural ecosystems, and have been helping to revive their populations. 

We have multiple articles on our blog covering how you can help frogs in your area:

Common Questions About Endangered Frogs

Why are frogs going extinct? Frogs are going extinct due to human activity including deforestation, urbanization, roads separating migration areas, agriculture, surface drainage systems, pollution, human intervention, diseases, invasive species, and climate change.

When did frogs become endangered? More and more frogs became endangered since the rise of the consumer society in the 1960s which encouraged deforestation, urbanization, the use of fossil fuels, pollution, and climate change.

Are frogs being endangered? Many frog species are endangered due to human activity.Why are harlequin frogs going extinct? Harlequin frogs are classified as critically endangered with a high risk of extinction due to climate change, deforestation, urbanization, and the chytrid fungus disease.

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.