Discover why herbicides damage the reproductive health of leopard frogs. Atrazine and other herbicides are affecting the development and mating habits of leopard frogs.
These days, it's not a clear-cut case of "he said-she said" when it comes to frog-mating. Many male frogs may be singin' the blues, unable to attract a female with their connubial calls for coupling.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found male frogs with diminished vocal organs, as well as ovaries in their testes. The cause, says developmental endocrinologist Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., is atrazine, an herbicide commonly used on corn, soybeans and other crops in the Midwest and around the world for almost a half-century.
Hayes and his colleagues report that atrazine levels typically found in the environment (which are usually below Environmental Protection Agency standards for drinking water) turn tadpoles into hermaphrodites (having both female and male characteristics), and also reduce testosterone hormones in adult males.
These frogs' feminized fate could signal that the herbicide is subtly affecting human sex hormones, especially in human males. In high doses, this herbicide has the potential to cause cancer.
Atrazine's breakdown products can persist in lakes and groundwater for decades. Water treatment cannot entirely remove the herbicide. France, Germany and Italy are among several countries that have banned its use.
For more "ribbit" research, visit the Frogwatch USA (www.nwf.org/keepthewildalive/frogwatch/) and Frogweb (frogweb.gov) websites.
Green Gazette is written by Claire Anderson, except where noted.
Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!LEARN MORE
At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).
You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.