Frogs are known to be at a high risk from climate change because they are ectotherms, animals with a body temperature regulated by their environment. Global populations of frogs and other amphibians have already been devastated by chytrid fungus, a disease that broke out in the s and 90s. Now climate change could wreak havoc too. Prof Michael Mahoney, of the University of Newcastle, has spent three decades studying the amphibians. If they now face the added insult of climate change impacts, it just makes everything all that harder.
Pesticide Turns Male Frogs into Females
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A powerful and widely used herbicide called Atrazine changes the sex of many male frogs to females and emasculates three-quarters of others, according to research reported this week by a UC Berkeley professor and molecular toxicologist. The findings were immediately assailed as "fundamentally flawed" by scientists with Syngenta, the international agribusiness company and the chemical's largest manufacturer. The controversy has major political implications because the Environmental Protection Agency had approved Atrazine under the Bush administration after rejecting earlier findings, and agency scientists in the Obama administration are now reviewing that EPA rule. The European Union has already banned Atrazine after concluding that minute levels found in lakes and streams severely damaged amphibians. Research by Tyrone Hayes and his colleagues in their Berkeley laboratory found that 10 percent of their male frogs changed to females after ingesting small doses of Atrazine.
Hayes, professor of integrative biology. The 10 percent or more that turn from males into females — something not known to occur under natural conditions in amphibians — can successfully mate with male frogs but, because these females are genetically male, all their offspring are male. Though the experiments were performed on a common laboratory frog, the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis , field studies indicate that atrazine, a potent endocrine disruptor, similarly affects frogs in the wild, and could possibly be one of the causes of amphibian declines around the globe, Hayes said. Some 80 million pounds of the herbicide atrazine are applied annually in the United States on corn and sorghum to control weeds and increase crop yield, but such widespread use also makes atrazine the most common pesticide contaminant of ground and surface water, according to various studies.
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