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How frogs and humans interact: Influences beyond habitat destruction, epidemics and global warming

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image of Applied Herpetology

We review various ways that anurans have been of service to mankind, as well as threats to frog species from human activity beyond habitat destruction, global warming, and epidemic diseases. Over the centuries frogs have been a subject of fascination and entertainment, food, sources of medicinal preparations, and model organisms in biological research. For years many species were used in teaching anatomy, physiology and pharmacology, and in pregnancy testing. Current research has revealed antibiotic peptides, anti-tumour agents, analgesics and adhesive compounds in frog skin. There are also volatile compounds released from their skin; these chemicals repel various predators and may prove useful to humans. The global decline of amphibian populations is a major concern. Habitat destruction, global warming, and pandemic diseases are increasingly suspect in the decline of frog populations, but difficult to control. Restrictions in the food and pet trade are areas in which better enforcement could benefit anurans. However, not all human interactions have been deleterious to all species. The mechanics of highway building in North America commonly has created areas of run-off that provide breeding sites for select species. Similarly, in arid northern Australia, frogs aggregate in large numbers at artificial sites where human activity has provided stable water sources.

Affiliations: 1: Environmental Biology, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, S.A. 5005, Australia; 2: Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, 5850 College Street, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; 3: Firmenich, SA Route des Jeunes 1, PO Box 239, CH-1211 Genève 8, Switzerland


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