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Sunday, April 5 at 8 p.m. Nature presents Frogs: The Thin Green Line

(Rochester, NY) There is an environmental crisis unfolding in our own backyard and around the globe. As the celebration of Earth Day draws near, Nature takes an in-depth look at the greatest mass extinction of amphibians since the dinosaurs. Frogs have been on this planet for more than 250 million years; now scientists are struggling to keep them alive. Nature presents Frogs: The Thin Green Line, airing Sunday, April 5 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1).

Researchers have found evidence that one of the major reasons for the loss of one-third of our amphibians today stems from a fungus called chytrid. Unfortunately, the experts don’t know where it started and don’t know how to stop it. What they do know is that it grows in high altitudes, needs water, and requires a host to spread. The hosts are the many beautiful species of amphibians the disease destroys.

Frogs sit right in the middle of the food chain, causing a tremendous change in the ecosystem affecting fish, water quality, snakes, and birds. Because of chytrid, other creatures are disappearing. In Central Panama, biologists have evacuated frogs from the forest in order to save their lives. Today, their facility shelters 58 species of frogs — some of the rarest on earth. 

Where once there were the calls of frogs, there is now silence, and this silence is traveling through Central America and South America. Yet two hours south of the Panama Canal, there is a small patch of forest called Burbayar, where frogs live as they have for millions of years. Scientists in Panama are hoping this disease hasn’t yet reached this isolated forest. The Burbayar seems to be healthy, with thriving frogs and insects. The question is, for how long? 

For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/nature.

Pictured: A frog’s bulging eyes allow it to see front, side and even partly behind. 
Photo Credit: Andrew Young

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