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Picture book portrays a 'hoppy' future for endangered frogs
Date:12/13/2011

Move over Kermit, there's a native frog rising in the West.

With a big green puppet in hand, Arizona State University microbiologist Elizabeth Davidson has young children imagining the life cycles and life challenges of a threatened frog species in Arizona and cheering for the underfrog.

"Cheery: The true adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog," is a picture book written by Davidson and brought to life by graphic artist Michael Hagelberg. Published by Five Star Publications, Inc., the book was developed with support from the Heritage Fund, funded by Arizona Game and Fish Department, and was officially designated an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project by the Arizona Historical Commission.

In the tale, a Chiricahua (Cheer-a-cow-ah) pollywog, Cheery, grows up with a very uncertain future. "Round and fat and pale green with brown spots" makes tadpoles good eating for voracious introduced, non-native species in waterways and ponds. Crayfish, bait fish and bullfrogs, used as bait and discarded by fisherman, native snakes and birds are all predators of native pollywogs and young frogs.

Who knew that growing to an adult frog is so full of challenges in the Southwest?

If that wasn't enough, amphibians are threatened by microscopic predators. In this case, an infectious disease is decimating frog populations in Arizona and worldwide. More than one-third of all amphibian species (frogs, toads and salamanders) are now extinct or threatened with extinction. This is the real-life science that Davidson studies and teaches about in ASU School of Life Sciences, in addition to her work with infectious insect diseases, and mentoring of high school and undergraduate life science students.

"Children need a way to relate to things that are important in the environment, because they are important in ways that no one could even guess," says Davidson. "This book helps them learn a bit about biology, about predator-prey relationship
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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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