How shall we measure the health of the planet? Is it measured by the parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? The acidity of the oceans, the amount of rainfall? It can be measured by all of these. But we also measure the health of ecosystems by measuring animals, bioindicators like bees. And bioindicators like frogs, which were the subject of this week’s tweets by Jodi Rowley, along with her other Amazing Amphibians (TM). Frogs are extremely important indicators of the health of wetlands and water systems, and their abundance tells us about the level of pollution in these systems.
Jodi shared some of her amazing frog and amphibian finds – salamanders, and the super-freaky Caecilians with retractable face tentacles from her travels through Vietnam, Cambodia and more local climes (Sydney). It was a frog-festival at Real Scientists this week and we were really treated to some beautiful photography, introduced to unique species, and the process of sifting through leaf litter and mud to find tiny frog beautifully adapted to their environs, some even camouflaged as..well..bird poop.
Here is a composite image of the frog eyes from frogs Jodi has documented. Eye of Sauron not half as awesome.
This one is one of my favourites: a frog with green blood and turquoise bones. Nature produces the most amazing animals:
Jodi’s travels reminds us of the way naturalists like Alfred Russell Wallace used to head out into the wild blue yonder to collect specimens. In modern times, the collection of specimens takes on an important ecological role in observing the health of the species as well as the environments, as well as allowing to carry out molecular analyses that help us better understand adaptation and evolution.
We thank Jodi Rowley for her awesome week at Real Scientists – we say it every time, but it’s true. You can follow her further adventures at the Australia Museum with @austmusreserach and her personal account at @jodirowley.