Frogs thriving in SWFL wetlands, still face threats from invasive species

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Frogs in SWFL. Credit: WINK News

Does the sound of croaking frogs ever keep you up at night? It can be loud and annoying to some, but a wildlife expert says it’s a good thing that you hear them.

To Florida Gulf Coast University professor Win Everham – each frog sounds like hope for Florida’s disappearing wetlands, “If you move into an area and drain the wetlands and put up a parking lot, you lose frogs.”

Everham leads students in collecting data for Southwest Florida frog watch, “I really like the eastern narrowmouth, they sound like a very angry sheep they go wraaaaaaah … it’s trying to pick up signals of changes over long periods of time.”

In once marshy areas now drained and developed, Everham sees more invasive species moving in, like the poisonous cane toad and the cuban tree frog.

These bigger frogs pose health risks to both humans and pets and they also gobble up the smaller native frogs that eat algae in the water and bugs in the air.

Southwest Florida frog watch says their populations are declining worldwide, but Everham sees local improvements, “Over the last 30 years people have been changing the way they do building and are putting ponds and wetlands within the human developments.”

Everham said, “If we keep having frogs it means we are managing our water well.”

The EPA says preserving wetlands protects our safety and welfare. These areas act as natural sponges trapping water, debris, even diseases.

The EPA reports more than one-third of threatened and endangered species in the U.S. live only in wetlands.

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