Florida researchers put Cuban treefrogs on ice

By January 6th, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Comment

A cuban treefrog awaiting analysis.  Photo: Johnson Lab at UF

A cuban treefrog awaiting analysis. Photo: Johnson Lab at UF

We often highlight citizen science projects that ask volunteers to note where and when they see a particular animal. However, researchers at the University of Florida are asking citizen scientists to go one step further — not only does this group need help spotting invasive Cuban treefrogs, but also, they’d like you to help get rid of them!

Dr. Steve Johnson, a scientist in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, studies the range and behavior of Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis). Though native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, these treefrogs were accidentally introduced to Florida in the early 1900s. Cuban treefrogs post a threat to native species, as they are known to eat five different species of native Florida treefrogs. In addition Cuban treefrogs hide out in homes, PVC pipes and utility equipment causing damage and even power outages!

If you’re psyched to help, first read about the project online and download a data sheet. Then you need to spot an invasive froggy. Next, ensure that you’ve caught the correct critter. Cuban treefrogs come in many shades (white, grey, green and brown) and can be hard to identify; researchers don’t want overeager citizen scientists anesthetizing every frog they see!

To be absolutely sure that you have a cuban treefrog in your grasp, check out the online gallery of photos or email the researchers themselves. Once you’re sure, follow the step-by-step instructions for humane euthanization of the critters. This includes anesthetizing them with benzocaine (or lidocaine) and then freezing the frogs. If done correctly, the procedure should be painless.

With your help, researchers in Florida can combat invasive species such as the Cuban treefrog and allow native species to thrive.

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