Book SectionsTable of Contents
The Problem Puddle Power Frog-Friendly Backyard Why are we concerned about amphibians?
Wetlands - function/type Wetland issues
How to help amphibians
Community Green Plans
Why are we concerned about amphibians?
You may well ask why we have taken frogs, toads, newts and salamanders as symbols of our commitment to wetland conservation?
Water is essential to the survival of amphibians. They have an aquatic larva that feeds on vegetation and decaying organic matter and then a terrestrial adult stage that lives on land and in water, and eats insects. Anything that affects water quality or their terrestrial environment affects amphibians. Amphibians also serve as prey and predators in the ecosystem, therefore their loss can have multiple effects on the food chain. Although we do not fully understand the reasons for the decline of amphibian populations, amphibians are good indicator species of a healthy wetland. Changes in their abundance or distribution indicate changes in the habitats which support them. Although many wild life species are tolerant of changes in water quality, monitoring amphibian populations may provide an early warning that water quality has deteriorated, or has been lost to the watershed.
Although our focus is on amphibians and wetland habitats, the quality and abundance of water will ultimately affect ALL species. Imagine a world without the raucous call of the red-wing blackbird, buzzing dragonflies or leaping fish.
Amphibians have a life cycle not fully appreciated by many people. Scientists suggest that amphibian eggs and larvae are quite sensitive to low levels of pesticides, acid rain and increases in ultraviolet light. The stress caused by long periods of sub-lethal exposure to low levels of environmental contaminants (that may be well within allowable toxicity guidelines) may make amphibians more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections .
Metro Toronto Zoo has been recognized around the world for the contribution made to the conservation of amphibians in their native habitats. We are committed to transferring the knowledge that we have gained in contributing to global conservation issues to the conservation of species and habitats in our own backyards. The preservation of global biodiversity begins with the preservation of genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity of our own bioregion. We have expertise that must be transferred to those who can act to better the environment of the communities in which they live.
The Greater Toronto Region is, both literally and figuratively, at a watershed. Not long ago, society believed that the environment was endlessly able to absorb the detritus of a modern, industrial-based economy. More recently, the assumption was that the environment and the economy were inevitably opposed: opting for one meant damaging the other. Today, however, it is clear that the two, rather than being mutually exclusive, are mutually dependent: a good quality of life and economic development cannot be sustained in an ecologically deteriorating environment. The way we choose to treat the Greater Toronto Waterfront is crucial. If governments and individuals recognize-and act on-the need to resolve past environmental problems and forge strategies to protect the waterfront now and in the future, we will, indeed, have successfully crossed a watershed.
-David Crombie in "Watershed", The Interim Report of the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Water front, 1990.
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