for amphibious spawning in the Northern Hemisphere.
Frogs have been singing sweet songs of romance all spring. Toads, newts and the like have been looking for love in all the wet places. Now is the time to inspect the spawning grounds and see how they are doing.
You may know that globally amphibian populations have been in decline for many years. There are two main causes identified so far: habitat loss and fungal infections (such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd). Recently a study in central America has found a peculiar statistic: habitats that are disturbed but functional are less likely to have populations affected by infection. This makes habitat near cities and marginal wetlands all the more important.
So, annually, I check for habitat functionality near where I live, in southeast Portland, Oregon. In the inner part of town the wetlands, springs and creeks are underground but out where I live there are many places where frogs and their cousins have been (along with some fish) making babies.
Less than a mile from my home are several excellent locations for frog spawning. Powell Butte, Mount Scott, Johnson Creek (especially the newly rehabilitated habitat areas), the Springwater Corridor and, less than 10 blocks away, the Beggar’s Tick Natural Area.
Many years the summer heats up fast and if there hasn’t been enough spring rain I find the marginal habitats along the edges of these spaces dry up before tadpoles can mature. Not that it does much good, but when I see this happening I’ll scoop a few hundred polliwogs out of the muck and stick them in an outdoor aquarium. I feed them flake fish food until they can get out of the tank on their own and eat insects.
The back legs pop out first- almost literally. It’s like one day they are little spermish critters and the next they have legs. The tails shrink, the mouths grow wide and soon the front legs appear. Often within a couple days time the whole lot will just up and climb out to the world. I have chronicled this process here before many times.
This year, as last, I am happy to report healthy habitats, very wet wetlands and a thriving population of tadpoles with plenty of water to keep them until they are ready to hop along into the green spaces. Maybe one will come to your garden.
I walked through Beggar’s Tick today- it looks really good, very wet, seasonal ponds are full. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to check along the northeastern edge of Sauvie Island where, with the Columbia River 15 feet above flood stage, the wetlands are very healthy. I surmise that all along the nearby rivers the sloughs, estuaries and ponds are happy, healthy and wet.
Excellent year for frogs and their fellow-travelers!
Below pictures are big; click for full size.