Mason Ryan's Ecosphere Article: Two Wet For Frogs


Posted: Jan 28, 2015 - 12:00pm

UNM Ph.D. candidate Mason Ryan and tropical biology students finish up sampling a leaf litter plot.

Extreme climate events such as an El Niño or La Niña weather patterns can wreak havoc on global economies, health systems, and plant and animal communities. In tropical Costa Rica, where rainfall is usually abundant, researchers from the University of New Mexico and the University of Costa Rica (UCR) set out to study the effects of a record-breaking La Niña event on frogs in their natural habitat.

Led by Ph.D. candidate Mason Ryan, the group surveyed frogs over a five-year period that included the 2010-2012 La Niña event. The research, titled “Too wet for frogs: changes in a tropical leaf litter community coincide with La Niña,” was published today in Ecosphere, a journal of the Ecological Society of America.

The role of extreme rainfall associated with a La Niña event is not well-known for amphibians in tropical areas, but one wouldn’t expect abundant rainfall to harm populations of moisture-loving organisms like amphibians. Leaf litter frogs live in a humid and moist environment comprised of dead leaves and other forest debris that falls to the ground. The onset of the 2010-12 La Niña provided a natural experiment with which to address the effects of excess rainfall on this community. Ryan and colleagues documented extreme changes in leaf-litter frog populations that coincided with the La Nina event.

Read the full article at UNM Newsroom.