Investigation of frog abnormalities on national wildlife refuges in the Northeast U.S.

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Edited by:
Linder G.L.Krest S.Sparling D.Little E.E.


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To address concerns about frog abnormalities, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service examined over 3,643 frogs and toads on National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) in the Northeast U.S. The objectives were to: 1) determine if certain refuges had sites where abnormalities were frequently observed; 2) evaluate if the prevalence of abnormalities at a site was consistent within a season and among years; and 3) investigate possible causes. Sampling was conducted from 1999 through 2001. A complete sample from a site consisted of ???50 metamorphs of one species. The prevalence of abnormalities ranged from 0 to 15% and fluctuated within season and among years. The most common external abnormalities were truncated limbs, and missing limbs, feet, and digits. Frogs with duplication of limb segments were rare (6). Based on radiographical examinations of 89 abnormal frogs, 55 had abnormalities due to trauma, 22 due to malformations, and 12 could not be classified. Metacercariae of the trematode Ribeiroia were detected in substantial numbers in two species from Iroquois NWR, with one specimen having supernumerary hindlimbs. We recommend continued sampling and integrated, causal evaluations on NWRs where the prevalence of abnormalities exceeds 5% or where the types of abnormalities warrant further study.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Investigation of frog abnormalities on national wildlife refuges in the Northeast U.S.
Year Published:
Larger Work Title:
ASTM Special Technical Publication
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Last page:
Conference Title:
Multiple Stressor Effects in Relation to Declining Amphibian Populations
Conference Location:
Pittsburgh, PA
Conference Date:
16 April 2002 through 17 April 2002