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Spring Peepers Peeping

12-16-15 spring peeper IMG_7853The sound of a peeping Spring Peeper in December (yes, this occurred in Vermont this week) conveys to one and all that climate change is not a figment of our imagination. Amphibians are extremely sensitive to small changes in temperature and moisture due to their permeable skin and shell-less eggs. Certain species, including Spring Peepers, Grey Tree Frogs, Wood Frogs, American Bullfrogs and American Toads, are emerging and mating earlier in the year than they did historically. Causal relationships have been found between irregular climate conditions (drought, increasing frequency of dry periods and severe frosts) and decreasing (extinction in some cases) of certain amphibian species.

Behaviorally and physically, warming temperatures are having an impact on amphibians. A recent laboratory study investigated changes in amphibian metamorphosis time due to pond desiccation and whether amphibian immune systems become compromised as a result of these changes. They found that amphibian immune responses became increasingly weaker and white blood cell counts were increasingly lower with higher desiccation. As a result of climate effects, immune systems are weakened, making it more difficult for amphibians to fight off diseases.

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15 responses

  1. Marilyn

    With the windows closed these days, I might have missed this phenomenon. I did hear peepers a couple of months ago.

    December 17, 2015 at 8:16 am

  2. shielaswett

    Oh, Mary, That is really spooky, hearing/seeing spring peepers NOW :-((( What next? More dreary rainy weather for our Northern New England Christmas? Ugh…

    December 17, 2015 at 9:00 am

  3. Cindy

    I’m embarrassed to be a member of such a destructive species. Sigh. Thank you for taking a stand – and for educating and speaking up for our beleaguered planet-mates – esp the tiny ones.

    December 17, 2015 at 10:52 am

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    Is it possible that the peepers would breed now, as if the winter has passed?

    December 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

    • I honestly don’t know, Kathie. I heard (second hand) about a nest with nestlings in it this morning – haven’t verified it, but I suppose anything is possible…

      December 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm

  5. eileenrockefeller

    Perhaps this explains the loss of spring peepers where we live in shelburne, VT. We have had a herpetologist visit our pond, and have for several years dumped peeper eggs into our pond, but none of this has resulted in the return of spring peepers. Do you have any further explanation for such a loss?

    December 17, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    • I’m afraid not. Jim Andrews, at Middlebury, head of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, might well have some insight. So sad.

      December 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm

  6. So disturbing, this cascade of catastrophe.
    While driving in the rain on Monday night, I saw many night crawlers in the road and even a frog! I was shocked to see one in Dec. but with the unseasonably warm temps. I can see why they are confused. Can they go in and out of hibernation without causing themselves great harm?

    December 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm

  7. Jim Lafley

    One year in the mid-80s while working at a nature center near the Connecticut coast I heard Spring Peepers every month of the year. Needless to say, it was a very mild winter.

    December 18, 2015 at 7:30 am

    • Amazing. I’ve heard there was a year in Vermont when it snowed every month!

      December 18, 2015 at 10:08 am

  8. On a lighter note, just the night before last, early evening, I caught a snowshoe hare, 100% pure white in a NO SNOW environment, as in immediately below my porch which sits at 1840 feet above sea level red handed scoffing down a stale hotdog bun I had flung outside a day earlier. Talk about a black eyed pea in a bowl of rice! :~)
    BF… WGF Studio53

    December 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

    • Wow! I hope you got a photo, and if you did, I’d love to see it!!!

      December 18, 2015 at 11:07 am

  9. I’m afraid not Mary as it was a 30 second or less chance encounter. It saw me immediately & actually ran straight towards me, followed the edge of the house, out of my sight & gone baby gone!
    Bill…

    December 18, 2015 at 11:16 am

  10. judilindsey

    Mary,  Yikes! These are very curious and precarious times! I hope mankind wakes up and starts cherishing and protecting our wonderful world. I am using your website and books to teach my students in 4th grade more about animal adaptations. Thanks for your wonderful photos and facts.  Merry Christmas! Judi    

    December 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    • Tnank you, Judi. I couldn’t agree with you more, and I’m honored to play a part in the education of your students! Mary

      December 20, 2015 at 8:33 am

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