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Texans Encouraged to "Leap In" for Year of the Frog Activities
AUSTIN, Texas — Do things still go croak in the night? That’s the question that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the global zoological community are asking this leap year. 2008 has been designated as "The Year of the Frog," and Texas citizens are invited to get involved in activities to promote amphibian conservation.
Amphibian populations worldwide are declining. The World Conservation Union’s Global Amphibian Assessment, a comprehensive assessment on the conservation status and distribution of 5,918 amphibian species, has shown that almost one-third (1,896 species) of amphibians worldwide are threatened with extinction and that 122 amphibian species may have already been lost to extinction within the last 30 years. In the Americas, the outlook is even bleaker, with 40 percent of amphibian species threatened, including over 80 percent of those in the Caribbean region.
To date, dramatic declines have not emerged in Texas, but biologists want to keep an eye on the future.
In recognition of the alarming extinction trends for amphibians, which include the frogs and toads, salamanders, and tropical caecilians (soil-dwelling worm- or snake-like animals), many conservation partners have come together to recognize 2008, a leap year, as the Year of the Frog to mark a major conservation effort to address the amphibian extinction crisis. Zoos and aquaria are inviting the public to support conservation and captive breeding efforts to prevent extinction of amphibian species, while state programs, such as TPWD’s Texas Amphibian Watch, are asking citizen volunteers to help monitor trends in amphibian populations in the wild.
According to Lee Ann Linam, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist, there are many ways Texas citizens can get involved in the conservation efforts for amphibians.
"Families and individuals can learn more about the worldwide issue by attending some of the many Leap Year events planned at Texas zoos. Through participation in Texas Amphibian Watch, volunteers can gather data to help us understand how amphibians in Texas are doing," Linam said. "And, finally, people can even help in their own backyards by creating habitat for amphibians, such as ornamental ponds."
Many zoos are planning kick-off events on Leap Day, Feb. 29, while the monitoring season for Texas Amphibian Watch starts right away.
For more information on Year of the Frog, including links to Texas Amphibian Watch materials and workshops, please visit the program Web site. Year of the Frog materials for teachers also are available.
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