"We don't know yet why this is happening, but we can expect that it does not bode well for amphibians and other animals that share their habitats, including humans," Micancin said.
It may be that the Northern Cricket Frog is "bullying out the Southern Cricket Frogs," which are slightly smaller, but human activity may also play an important role, he said. For example, the Southern Cricket Frog may be more sensitive to development than the Northern Cricket Frog. Climate change also could be affecting both species, which aren't able to survive droughts or winter temperature fluctuations as well as other frogs, he added.
Micancin, whose family has lived for generations in northeastern North Carolina, pointed to significant changes to the Great Dismal Swamp and other natural habitats in the state.
"Over recent decades, as the state has grown, we've seen more roads and parking lots, rural residential developments, larger farms and clear-cutting of pinelands," he said, all of which are affecting the habitats of cricket frogs and other amphibians, especially in northeastern counties.
Yet through his family's heritage, Micancin is keenly aware of the high poverty and unemployment rates there, and the critical need for more economic opportunities which usually means more development.
"It's a balancing act, and we need more research to understand how to preserve habitats for hunting, fishing and conservation while providing for the economic needs of North Carolinians. I'm hopeful but realistic about how successful we will be." he added.
|Contact: Kathy Neal|
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill