Hi! I'm Pip! I live here in the watershed with you and happen to be an expert on watershed health. We probably have not been formally introduced, but I am a Leopard frog. I'm also called a grass frog or a meadow frog. I keep a low profile around here, because a lot of things like to eat me. Sometimes, though, I feel the need to speak up.
You see, Leopard frogs like me are in trouble. My cousins out west are disappearing and disappearing fast. There are spots in Colorado and Montana where us Leopard Frogs are gone entirely. That's why I'm an expert on watershed health. When the areas around local lakes and streams start having problems, my friends and I disappear.
Scientists that have watched my cousins disappear know a few reasons why, and I want to share them with you. The first thing that can happen is habitat fragmentation. That's a fancy scientific way of saying that you split up the fields that I live in so much that I can't get everything I need. If people keep splitting up the big fields that I live in, I'll die.
Rana “pip” pipiens makes a special Earth Day request.
Photo by Jeff Tome
Speaking of grass, that stuff people spray on lawns can be a killer. I absorb chemicals right through my skin. So when someone sprays poison on the grass that I live in, it's like shooting it directly into my little froggy heart! Lawn pesticides can make me croak.
Scientists tell me that I am an indicator of good water quality, because my tadpoles and I can't survive in muddy, polluted water. It only takes some oily car drippies and road salt washed into my home to make it hard for me to live.
It doesn't take much to keep me happy. All I need is some nice shallow water to lay eggs in, a grassy lawn or meadow (preferably with grass that is longer) to live in and the chance to live in a large poison-free home that's not split up by too many roads, parking lots and driveways where I can get salted or squished.
Earth Day is coming up on Monday, and it's a great excuse to go for a walk and pick up some litter. What I would really like is for you to do is think of me. I may only be one frog, but my needs are the needs of the watershed as a whole - a clean, pesticide-free environment with lots of places where people and frogs can live together. The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy has helped protect some of my favorite places around the watershed. You can find where those places are and more tips on how to protect our shared watershed at www.chautauquawatershed.org or search for "Chautauqua Watershed" on Facebook.
Rana "Pip" pipiens is a leopard frog that lives in the large fields near Stow. He is a new contributor to the Watershed Notes column and brings a different perspective to watershed issues. Jeff Tome is a senior naturalist for Programs and Exhibits at the Jamestown Audubon Society, a long-time CWC volunteer and former CWC board director.
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the water quality, scenic beauty and ecological health of the lakes, streams, wetlands and watersheds of the Chautauqua region.