Background Image

News & Events

12-18-2014

Clarkson University Research Team's Study of Relationship Between Frogs and Roads Named Editors' Choice

A study co-authored by Clarkson University researchers has been named Editors' Choice by a top journal of conservation science.

Clarkson University biology student Jessica Beach '15 presents the Clarkson research team's data on frog populations in New York while at the 2013 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif.Biological Conservation features a study on the negative effects of roads on frog populations its monthly selections for December 2014. Clarkson Professor of Biology Tom Langen, biology student Jessica Beach '15, and other students in Langen's Global Environmental Change and Conservation Biology courses collaborated on the nationwide frog research project.

As an Editors' Choice, the paper is open source for one year. The article is available at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/biological-conservation/ .
 
"The paper will be brought to people's attention more directly both in the field of conservation science and also the press to make people more aware of this issue," Langen said.

Citizen scientists under direction of the U.S. Geological Survey's North American Amphibian Monitoring Program collected data on the number of frogs at thousands of points across the United States, as well as the number of cars passing by on nearby roads. The researchers analyzed the data to see if there were human factors that might explain the presence or absence of amphibian species in the area, accounting for issues such as noise level that could decrease the detectability of frog calls.

Langen said the data show a correlation between the number of roads and the amount of traffic on those roads and the health of frog populations. He said the presence of roads reduces the number of amphibians found in an area due to hazards such as traffic, habitat degradation, and toxins such as road salt.

"Roads can affect frog populations because there is a mortality risk when frogs go on roads and get killed, and roads can also affect frog populations because they can create barriers to movement across the landscape," he said.

Langen said he believes the paper was highlighted because of the scale of data collected by citizen scientists and the collaborative analysis of the data by faculty and students throughout the United States. The study was a collective effort of 10 colleges and universities, who met in 2013 to analyze their frog population data at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"I think the paper was selected because it uses citizen science data, and there's a lot of interest and concern to see if you can use citizen science data to do good science," he said.

Researchers and their students now are examining patterns in the landscape in terms of where roads are in relation to wetlands, forests, fields and other environments to determine where frog populations are vulnerable due to roads compared to others that are less vulnerable.

Langen said his goal is for the study to move from finding a problem to finding solutions. While altering the roadways would cost a lot of time and money, he said, it might be possible to make changes in some areas that would make the biggest difference.

"The road network is vast, so what we need to be able to do is pinpoint the areas in roads that would be most beneficial for mitigation -- perhaps fencing and a passage under the road," he said.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University biology student Jessica Beach '15 presents the Clarkson research team's data on frog populations in New York while at the 2013 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, Calif.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/jbeach.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

Calendar View the full calendar >>






Full Calendar RSS Feed