Disappearing Frogs Project

"The Corn Victim," acrylic. 4" x 4".

“The Corn Victim,” acrylic. 4″ x 4″.

I am participating in this year’s Disappearing Frogs Project. The opening reception is Wednesday, February 3rd 2016 and the exhibit will run through March 2nd, 2016. Check out the flyer below for all the details! Here’s a little info from Amphibians.org on DFP:

The Disappearing Frogs Project (DFP) was created In 2013 by Charlotte NC-based artist Terry Thirion. The concept is to bring synergy between artists and scientists to the public, communicating the unprecedented global amphibian decline and potential effects of species extinction. Awareness in the community is being raised; hearts of the public are being touched; and the Disappearing Frogs Project is inspiring people to get involved and to take personal action.

dfpflyerWhen I found out about this project I felt compelled to participate; matters of the environment appeal greatly to me and I have a slight affinity for painting/drawing frogs anyways. The news that frog species were declining across the globe was new to me and also alarming. Having any species’ population decrease significantly is bound to impact our global ecosystem.

With that in mind, I decided to paint my interpretation of the issue plaguing rana pipiens, the Leopard Frog. The Leopard Frog is found largely in N. America and enjoys crops like corn. Sadly, corn is treated with an herbicide, atrazine, that inhibits Leopard Frogs’ ability to reproduce because atrazine disrupts their hormones. Leopard Frogs are now considered a threatened species because of this. The Biology department of UC Berkeley has conducted studies on the issue and shared their findings. The following are key findings from the UC Berkeley studies:

The 75 percent [of Leopard Frogs] that are chemically castrated are essentially “dead” because of their inability to reproduce in the wild, reports UC Berkeley’s Tyrone B. Hayes, professor of integrative biology.

“These male frogs are missing testosterone and all the things that testosterone controls, including sperm. So their fertility is as low as 10 percent in some cases, and that is only if we isolate those animals and pair them with females,” he said. “In an environment where they are competing with unexposed animals, they have zero chance of reproducing.”

The rest of the article can be read here. I wonder what the population status of Leopard Frogs are today; many articles released about the matter are from several years ago. Hopefully the efforts of biologists and researchers are helping. Hopefully the efforts of artists like myself and those participating in the DFP also help to get the word out about this. If herbicides have the capacity to affect frogs in this way, I can only wonder what kinds of affects they may potentially have on humans and other animal species. It speaks largely to the use of such chemicals in agriculture and poses the question: What should we do better/next to prevent harming more living species on our planet?

In North Carolina, there will be chances throughout the first half of this year to get involved on this issue and attend events.  Please check out http://www.amphibians.org/disappearingfrogsproject/ for more information!


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