The Importance of Frogs

 Panamanian Golden Frog, by  Brian Gatwicke

Panamanian Golden Frog, by Brian Gatwicke

Frogs are important animals with many benefits within their natural habitats and for human beings. Unfortunately, amphibians have decreased across North, Central, and South America; Europe; Africa; and Australia. The global decline in frog populations can be linked to habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and diseases. Given the decline in frog populations, conservation efforts can help realize the full potential that our green friends can have on a sustainable future. In the following paragraphs I will highlight just several of the important roles frogs have in the environment, but it should become abundantly clear how important amphibians can be in helping us live happy and healthy lives.

Amphibians are a main link in ecosystem food webs. In temperate and tropical environments, amphibians can even outnumber dense forms of life such as birds, mammals, and reptiles. Given their large representation, frogs’ significance realizes itself a number of ways. Frogs are both predators and prey- they consume insects while also serving as an important source of food and energy for snakes, birds, and other animals. Insects can have destructive effects on agriculture, so frogs can provide very immediate impacts on farmers’ crop yields. Besides these effects on food sources, insects can carry diseases such as West Nile virus which are harmful to humans.

 Crucifix Frog, or Holy Cross Toad, by  Mr Tuba Man 88

Crucifix Frog, or Holy Cross Toad, by Mr Tuba Man 88

Frogs have helped lead to great innovations in science. More than 70 species of frogs have some kind of medicinal value. Indeed, many Nobel prize- winning projects in medicine and physiology have utilized frog studies. The skin of frogs secretes chemical compounds which carry medicinal benefits on issues such as addiction to painkillers and cancer. In fact, amphibians are used to meet primary health needs in indigenous communities. Several interesting traits of frogs may be at the frontier of medical research. Many amphibians such as newts and salamanders can regenerate tissue, which may help us understand more about the possibilities of cell regeneration. Five species of frogs can also survive after being frozen solid. These traits may help us further understand human organ transplantation. Finally, the Crucifix Frog has a sticky skin, which could help rotator cuff repair.

Given their obvious benefits, societies and cultures across time and around the world have praised and revered frogs. However, certain cultures have despised them and regarded them as evil. Nonetheless, frogs have been embraced as keepers of the rain, agents of fertility, and good luck- and for obvious reasons. Amphibians have been characters in stories, ingredients for archaic folk medicine, and spiritual beings. We must be concerned with their future on this planet so the next generations can benefit from frogs and marvel in the way they continue to improve our lives and balance ecosystems.