Halcyon students were treated to a fascinating talk about frogs around the world and terrible fungi that are having a dangerous effect on important frog species and populations. Professor Fisher, JJ’s dad, a scientist working at Imperial College London, investigates where the fungi comes from as well as supporting several other scientists and their projects to protect and better understand endangered frog species. Professor Fisher said: “The students were so engaged! They asked very interesting questions – frankly, at the level of many of the research scientists I deal with.”
One project involves the controlled breeding of endangered frogs in sealed shipping containers. This may sound drastic but is necessary due to the speed and extent of extinctions, some of which occur within months. Frogs are vital to ecosystems, both feeding on pests such as ticks and mosquitoes, and are a source of food to animals such as birds and snakes. Their extinction causes disruptions to the food web. Moreover, we as humans can learn from frogs, but if this situation does not find a solution we will miss these opportunities. One species was able to minimise the amount of acid produced by the stomach in order to swallow its own eggs to grow inside their stomachs and then give birth by vomiting the froglets through the mouth. Exploring this function could have had applications to human medicine as stomach acids cause so many uncomfortable disorders. Unfortunately, both species of frog that had this function have become extinct.
Students also learned about interesting charities and initiatives both here and abroad that are supporting research and protection projects in this area such as Save the Frogs and Build a Frog Pond. Great food for thought.
Student, Scott, said: “It was a really interesting and entertaining and I learned a lot about frogs and how this fungus is affecting them.”