What frog science can teach us about global warming

A Frog Revival

From World Climate Report

About 15 to 20 years ago, folks began to notice problems in amphibian communities around the world. At first, physical deformities were being noticed and then large population declines were being documented.

The finger was initially pointed at the coal industry, with an idea that perhaps mercury was leading to the deformities. But this didn’t pan out. Next, farm practices came under fire, as excess fertilizer running off into farm ponds became the leading suspect. But that theory didn’t hold water either. Then, attention turned to the ozone hole, with the idea that increased ultraviolet radiation was killing the frogs. No luck there either.

Then came the Eureka moment—aha, it must be global warming!

This played to widespread audiences, received beaucoup media attention and, of course, found its way into Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

But, alas, this theory, too, wilted under the harsh glare of science, as new research has now pretty definitively linked an infection of the chytrid fungus to declines, and even local extinctions, of frog and toad species around the world.

Perhaps the biggest irony in all of this, is that while researchers fell all over themselves to link anthropogenic environmental impacts to the frog declines, turns out that as they traipsed through the woods and rainforests to study the frogs, the researchers themselves quite possibly helped spread the chytrid fungus to locations and populations where it had previously been absent.

Now a bit good—although hardly unexpected—news is coming out of the frog research studies. Some frog populations in various parts of the world are not only recovering, but also showing signs of increased resistance—gained through adaptation and/or evolution—to the chytrid fungus.

Thus opens a new chapter in the ongoing Disappearing Frog saga, and one that likely foretells of a hoppy ending.

The magazine New Scientist has an interesting article titled “Fungus out! The frog resistance is here” that ties together a growing number of research findings indicating that frog populations that once faced local extinction have been making a come back—even in the continued presence of the chytrid fungus.

New Scientist reports that Australian researchers are reporting that a variety of frog species from across the Land Down Under that were once devastated by chytrid infection are now re-establishing themselves in areas that they were wiped out and in some cases have even returned to numbers as large as they were prior to the chytrid outbreak.

Other researchers are finding, as reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Briggs et al., 2010), that frogs in the mountains of California that were once “driven virtually to extinction” are also making a recovery even though the chytrid fungus is still present. Some populations there have apparently developed the ability to survive in the presence of low-levels of the fungus.

Evidence of a developing resistance to the chytrid fungus has also been reported in a species of Australian frogs. A study published in the journal Diversity and Distributions (Woodhams et al., 2010) looked at populations of frogs which have recovered from a chytrid infection and found indications that natural selection may have led to more resistant populations and facilitated the recovery.

All this is not to say that amphibian populations across the world have made a full and complete recovery, but it is to say that there are encouraging signs that some populations are clawing their way back through adaptation and natural selection—precisely the way things are supposed to work.

And even though global warming is no longer considered to be the guilty party (of course, exonerated with much less fanfare than it was accused), the amphibian story does show the resiliency of nature—a resiliency that is grossly underplayed or even ignored in virtually all doom and gloom presentations of the impacts of environmental change.

Something that is worth keeping in mind.


Briggs, C. J., et al., 2010. Enzootic and epizootic dynamics of chytrid fungal pathogen of amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 9695-9700.

Woodhams, D.C., et al., 2010. Adaptations of skin peptide defenses and possible response to the amphibian chytrid fungus in populations of Australian green-eyed treefrogs, Litoria genimaculata. Diversity and Distributions, 16, 703-712.


Heh, guess who was pushing the alarm about AGW and frogs back then?

but wait, there’s more….

And you can find a boatload more with a Google search

Including one blog, way back then, who said “not so fast“.


    Frog Extinctions Linked to Global Warming



    Jan 12, 2006 The die-off of harlequin frog species in Central and South America is the result of a deadly fungus spurred by global warming, a new study



    Global Warming Tied To Extinction Of Frog Species – washingtonpost.com



    Jan 12, 2006 Rising temperatures are responsible for pushing dozens of frog species over the brink of extinction in the past three decades, according to

    www.washingtonpost.com › NationScienceSimilar


    Global Warming Is Killing Frogs And Salamanders In Yellowstone



    Oct 27, 2008 Frogs and salamanders, those amphibious bellwethers of environmental danger, are being killed in Yellowstone National Park.



newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Fred from Canuckistan

ya but, but, but, but, but . . . chytrid fungus is caused by Global Warming so there.
Na na na na nahhhhhhh na.

William Butler

I’m curious why a charlatan like you keeps spewing moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you being paid that much?
REPLY: I don’t get paid anything from anyone, other than what I get from Google ads, so the “big oil, big whatever” sponsor theory you are probably alluding to, like so many that fail before you, fails now.
I’m curious why a person like yourself can’t see the plain science in front of your face. And, the post is mostly from World Climate Report.
Go ahead, make my day. Tell us how you “know” it’s global warming killing the frogs. – Anthony


No-one thought it was actually global warming killing jungle frogs. Half a degree on average in 50 years wipes out tropical species? It was never really a starter.
It was a nice drum to beat, because it drove along people interested in conservation. We all know the present has barely changed in terms of the range of temperatures.
The point of AGW panic is that our future is in jeopardy.


Much like this (2007) article blaming the bee decline on global warming: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article1045.html.
Proper scientific investigation shows otherwise…

Thus opens a new chapter in the ongoing Disappearing Frog saga, and one that likely foretells of a hoppy ending….

I see what you did there …. 😉


Is “hoppy ending” a bad pun or a typo?


Progs lie about frogs.

Robert Wykoff

I just love the cosmic irony of the very people that were clanging the alarm bells to the world, were the very source of the problem in the first place.


“…Thus opens a new chapter in the ongoing Disappearing Frog saga, and one that likely foretells of a hoppy ending.”
No chytrid?

Mark Twang

As I recall, the moonbat who shot up the Discovery Channel offices outside DC had (alongside a hatred of humans) a specific concern for “the froggies” (sic).
He got turned into a newt, though, and never got better.

Pat Moffitt

Any bets that a natural cause for frog decline will result in a precipitous decline in grant opportunities? Its not the problem that’s important — its the cause.

Ed MacAulay

I am sure glad the frogs didn’t all croak.


I wondered where the frogs went.
An interesting side note is the implication that the scientists themselves had spread
the problem.
I wonder how many other problems are actually caused, or worsened, by the molestation of wildlife by curious grant-seekers ?


“”and one that likely foretells of a hoppy ending.””

Jim Clarke

When will environmentalists actually start to become environmentalists, instead of jack-booted thugs?


Or could it be all frog croaking is a warning of the warming?

Eric Dailey

Poor William Butler is so frustrated he must lash out with ad hominems. The last resort in a failed argument. He is probably real upset about all the cold and snow weather messing up the global warming. To bad.


William Butler says: December 13, 2010 at 5:12 pm
I’m curious why a charlatan like you keeps spewing moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you being paid that much?
William Butler. Can you be for real?


My favorite in the wacko’s doing in the environment is the Sudden Oak Decline (Death) Syndrom – SODS. A fungus, brought in most likely by the same folks who were treating the frogs to a new threat. The fact that Marin County, CA was heavily hit, left a certain schadenfreude.


A major factor affecting Sierra frog population, is the introduction of centrarchid gamefish. Many reported population declines that where blamed on pesticide in the days before the frog deformity were really caused by predation.
One thing I discovered when I was still wanting to become an ichthyologist, was that amongst those studying wildlife, the people studying amphibians, were the worst enviro-nuts.


See there is untoad wisdom in studying frogs.


Another point, the definition of what constitutes a species, is very loose when applied to amphibians. And the whole concept of “locally extinct” has no scientific validity.


Well!….SOMEBODY was in denial:)

jack morrow

Stupid scientists never learn. Even in the fifties we knew that disease was spread in chicken houses from one farm to another, so we kept out outsiders. So if they went from one frog pond to another without disinfecting themselves the they were “stupid scientists”! Case dismissed.

DD More

Guess Freddy N. was right when he quoted “That which does not kill us makes us stronger. “

Carl Chapman

I thought it was also related to using frogs to test for hormones in women’s urine, as a pregnancy test. Transporting frogs around the world spread the fungus. Is that correct?


I was told the scientists were studying the fungus in their labs, on African clawed frogs, and that’s the way it was spread in the first place.
who knows – shrug


Full circle:
Back around to the big toad Al Gore.
Your turn to loudly croak once more.

Bryn Thomas

I can believe it. I am surrounded by tree frogs that keep me awake at night croaking at each other.

R. Shearer

Frogs like the snow in the Midwest because it’s….knee deep.
Seriously, this link discusses the return of leopard frogs to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. http://www.gazette.com/articles/northern-103642-dunes-return.html

Frank K.

It is my understanding that the climate scientists involved in the original frog study produced some video of their research…here it is…

Harold Pierce Jr

Is the fungus killing off any cane toads in Oz? These critters are so poisonous even crocs won’t eat them.

William Butler says:
December 13, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I’m curious why a charlatan like you keeps spewing moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you being paid that much?

Right back atcha!
Modified slightly, however:
“I’m curious why you spew such moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you that misled or just stupid?”
[ OK, you’ve each had “ONE” on the other. Now cool it. No food fights needed, OK? -MOD]

And if anyone would like a follow-up on the deformities, turns out that wasn’t us either: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=parasites-or-pollution
ShrNfr says:
December 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm
See there is untoad wisdom in studying frogs.
Two puns in one word, you’re amazing!


Sounds like the Frogs actually did it to themselves.
Not the French BTW.
Its the old Bait and Chase…set the mark up with a honeypot…say total domination of all mankind in perpetuity without recourse to representation or relief, then reap the benefits.
In this case, the poor froggies get a whole lot of sweet loot:
fenced off ponds
all you can eat buffets
lots o’lady froggies – you know…tax payer funded fun.
By the time Humanity works it out, they’ve evolved thumbs, invented FROGHOLES (like wormholes only froggier) and you’ve left them holding the entire sinking wreck.
Beats sharing a planet with Toads. And its payback time for those damn scorpions…’its my nature!..” yeah right, eat ice-age mr nippy-pants.

Baa Humbug

This is the type of thing that just makes me hopping mad.
Oh! and posters like William Butler

William Butler, I have news for you: in the last four or five years we had in our province (Córdoba, Argentina) an invasion of frogs and toads.
I live in open country near a pond, and in spring and summer it has been quite difficult to sleep because their singing. At least there are less mosquitoes, flies, and crickets.


“I’m curious why a charlatan like you keeps spewing moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you being paid that much?”
Are warmists getting that much desperate that, instead of using arguments to refute an idea, have to use ad hominem attacks and ambiguous denial phrases? Interesting, something good must be happening to science indeed. Keep on the good working Anthony. Cheers

Ted Gray

William Butler says:
December 13, 2010 at 5:12 pm
I’m curious why a charlatan like you keeps spewing moronic nonsense. Really, how is it possible? Are you being paid that much?
Willy Wonka Butler.
I hate to comedown on a loser, but you take the FRUIT CAKE, I would like to apply for a research grant to study your brain function or lack of it!
There is so much evidence being presented here and some very simple fact checking proves it beyond any warmist wet dreamers inability to assorb the truth.
You’ve won the prize for moron of the week.
I invite you to look at the evidence again and come back with something half decent in the way of a counter argument, Maybe you are infected with chytrid fungus of the brain.
I think you are more likely suffering from DRD4 gene which prevents you from the ability to “Science Digest” evidence from any other source other than the leftist Climate progress pages or perhaps Al Gore can help you frame a better argument?
because right now you are batting ZERO!


They were definitely walking in Nobel territory until proven wrong.


These silly ‘scientists’, most who seem to live in cold or temperate climates, really have no idea about tropical zoology or botany. They are oblivious that the ‘horrendous’ temperatures they predict are the norm for 50% of the planet. All they know about are their conformist disaster models that bring in the next grant from gullible, ill-educated politicians, inflamed by journalists who are ignorant as the frogs themselves. It is disgusting.

DesertYote says:
Another point, the definition of what constitutes a species, is very loose when applied to amphibians. And the whole concept of “locally extinct” has no scientific validity.

It’s properly called “extirpation” but so many folks don’t know that word that it’s just a lot easier to say “locally extinct” as that is descriptively correct of the meaning. I wouldn’t stress over it.
BTW “species” are pretty darned loose over a lot of different, er, species. Most of the cabbage family along with turnips and mustards will all get in each others pants and make new “species”. (I think it’s the “Choy” vegetables that are a turnip mustard cross? And I’ve crossed cabbages with kales. And a rutabega is a cross of cabbages with turnips? Something like that. Sometimes you get a gene doubling too – diplody).
Lions and Tigres are keen on each other too. Oh, and several misc. species of ‘wolves, cayotes, and foxes’ have been found to be various odd cross-species crosses. It’s a very long list.
“Species” It’s not a law, just some ‘ol prudish dingbat trying to limit your love…
At least, that’s the way nature seems to see it. And we won’t even talk about what bacteria do with their plasmid rings. Those guys will share genes with anything that moves and a lot of stuff that doesn’t…
Oh, and don’t forget that Triticale is a wheat / rye hybrid… And some of my favorite fruit is made from “odd” crossings; like Grapefruit / Tanerine to get a Tangelo, wonderful fruit. And Nectarines, and…

Crispin in Ulaanbaatar

William Butler: take a break. See you next week. Better luck next time.
Guys and gals, you can lead a man to evidence but you cannot make him read it. Don’t say, ‘Read the evidence’. Evidence is for those willing to educate themselves.
Thus speaks loud the difference between education and schooling. Many are schooled in the ‘truths’ of AGW-caused frog extinctions. It used to be acid rain-caused extinction: frogs in bubbling acid-bath lakes, until it was found there isn’t any.
The destiny of the well-schooled yet uneducated masses is toadying up to funders chanting climate mantras like: “The Golden Frog was the first proven extinction caused by man-made warming.” Find the article – its a hoot. Classic sky-is-falling, pay NOW before it’s too late! Too bad about the fungus the ‘researcher’ tramped through their territory. Killed them in one year. Oblivious, during a visit the following year the author found only one remaining. Then silence.
I am delighted to hear frog populations are in general recovering. Turns out they are more resilient than most arguments holding that CO2-armegeddon waits just around the corner (promise!) if we don’t pay more attention (and $$).
The problem with warmistas, like amphibians, is that deprived of their marketing appendage, they will just grow a new tale. Pinoccio’s image come to mind…

John F. Hultquist

Wasn’t it wishing for a hoppy ending that got Big Al in trouble?
Sorry. It has been a long day – too little heat, too much snow, too long of a driveway, too many fools, . . .

Jim Steele

The “blame AGW for frog extinction” was a blatant example of not just trying to create fear with false blame but also how AGW claims inhibited efforts to save the frogs that were most susceptible to the disease. And no surprise that Nature led the way with the false claims publishing the main advocate of AGW extinctions, Alan Pounds, who the became one of the few biologist for the IPCC report.
As early as 1998 Australian scientists thought the enigmatic extinctions were caused by disease, because the frogs showed no signs of stress, looked healthy but then suddenly died. Pounds and Crump studying the Golden Toad from Monteverde remarked that populations were at all time highs just months before they disappeared. The abundant Golden Toad lived in burrows, sheltered from most climactic changes, and only emerged to mate for one or 2 weeks year. They mated after the rains returned from the El Nino, but were never seen again. No bodies were ever found. Genetic studies revealed that the fungus appeared in the areas shortly before their disappearance. Although there is no way to prove the Golden Toad extinction was caused by the chytrid without autopsies , nearby extinctions were definitely connected to Chytrids. Scientists like Crump saw this newly emerging disease slowly spreading through Central America and actually predicted where it would appear and rescued susceptible frogs for captive breeding. Yet Pounds condemned the efforts as a diversion from the real culprit AGW. And Nature published several papers by Pounds speculating that AGW was the real culprit, despite all evidence indicating that temperatures had not changed enough to effect the fungus’ spread. The fungus actually showed up during the winters and high elevations because high temperatures killed the fungus . Yet without a shred of evidence supporting AGW, Michael Man used the Golden toads extinction as an example of AGW’s future in his book “Dire Predictions”. Such claims only go to show how wrong Mann and AGW advocates can be!

Dave Wendt

It’s a bit strange that people who constantly rail on about about species developing resistance to man’s efforts to control them are so slow recognize that that same capability extends to naturally occurring threats as well. Almost all the catastrophic prognostications about man’s devastating effect on Nature seriously underestimate Mother Gaia’s resilience and adaptability.


The reality of the yawning gap between opposing views on global warming is starkly illustrated by Anthony’s challenge to Mr. Butler to tell how he “knows” that global warming is killing frogs. Let’s assume, in the absence of hard scientific evidence supplied by Mr. Butler, that his views are based merely on a firm “belief” in the global warning doctrine. That will surely be enough to sustain his views, notwithstanding his inability to come back with a ‘killer” argument. History shows that people are, in some circumstances, willing to die for their beliefs and Mr. Butler’s intemperate outburst is a measure of the depth of his committment to the cause.
Unfortunately, I suspect that those of us who remain unconvinced about the causes and extent of the global warming are similarly inclined to fall back on our beliefs in dismissing pro-AGW arguments as the product of feeble or dishonest minds. How can they believe such rubbish? we ask.
I can’t see the two sides reaching anything approaching a consensus anytime soon. What a pity it is not liable to be resolved like the Y2K bug affair where, overnight, the issue was resolved unequivocally and the fearmongers and schemers skulked away, never to be heard of again


The butler did it!


Oh willy willy willy,cant you just be happy for the froggys.You must lead a very sad life.

Patrick Davis

There was a new species of frog recently discovered, a tiny little thing no bigget than a thumb nail. So “global warming” kills and creates frogs species?