It's raining...what a good day for frogs!

Since one week, the team is getting soaked !
For the first official field-trip, the team went South of Montréal, near Chambly.

Froggies and proud to be!

For his residence at SAT, Brandon has surrounded himself with students, professionals and artists :
Natalie Bouchard, designer
Audrey Desjardins, designer
Marie-Chantale Desrosiers, artist
Nolwenn Gouezel, journalist and videomaker
Marie Larocque, videomaker
Frédérique Paquin, coordinator for Milagro Films
Marilyn Teuwen, Master degree student in planning design
Francis Pineau, coordonnateur SAT-TransForm et artiste audio.

The volunteers will work together to look after and to study the specimens collected on field-trips throughout the summer.

Monday, June 29th. It’s raining…what a good day for frogs!

Since one week, the team is getting soaked !
For the first official field-trip, the team went South of Montréal, near Chambly.
The volunteers pulled on their boots and took their fishing nets. It was raining cats and dogs… that was a great weather to explore wetlands, getting tadpoles, and hearing the frogs songs…. Unobstrusively, because frogs copulate in these days.

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During this field-trip, we have seen three different amphibians species : the Green frog, the Leopard frog and the American toad. Concerning adult specimens, outwardly, none at all had abnormality!
75 young tadpoles have been collected and taken to the bio-Lab at SAT for further observations. Though this number may at first seem large for anuran larvae it is very small. As in a frog breeding pond thousands upon thousands of tadpoles are present. Even for a single mass of frog eggs (which may contain over 10,000 eggs) our number is very small and would have a minimal if any effect on the overall population. As they are growing, we have to wait 4 to 6 weeks to know if the frogs will have abnormalities or not.

Another thing to point out about this field-trip :

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A dead Leopard frog was on a roadside. Frequently, in the countryside, roads cut through wetlands and because of these habitat fragmentation, it becomes a danger for frogs going from one side to another. So, please keep one eye open while travelling by car in these areas!

Wednesday, July 1st. First open doors

For the first time, Brandon Ballengée received a group of students at the SAT Bio-Laboratory : a good opportunity for him to communicate his passion for amphibians and to make his young audience sensitive to environmental matters and protection.

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Please notice that the laboratory is open to public on wednesday and thursday (from 12 to 4pm) and on saturday (by appointment, 12-5pm), throughout the summer.
For more information, please contact the SAT bio-lab at 514-844-2033 (# 230).

Friday, July 3rd. Malformation or deformity?

written by Brandon Ballengée

One green frog, collected last week near Lake Champlain is currently under observation at the « bio-lab ».

The little frog with a missing foot is a mystery. It has a rounded stump with pigmented seemingly ‘normal’ spots and just no foot. Did the limb not develop fully because of some unknown chemical pollutant in the water? Or did a hungry predator such as dragonfly nymph eat the developing foot while he was still a tadpole? There is no obvious sign of an earlier trauma but could the wound have healed with no scar? Is this a developmental malformation or a deformity?

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Amphibians are known to have amazing regenerative abilities! Often injuries from predators can partially or fully regenerate as recent laboratory studies by Brandon and colleague Dr. Stanley K. Sessions have found. Last summer they have demonstrated that dragonfly nymphs can eat ‘parts’ of tadpoles, which develop into frogs with permanent limb deformities. Precisely because frogs can regenerate in a variety of different ways (fully, partially and not at all) from injuries that occur at the tadpole stage, distinguishing between a ‘malformation’ and a ‘deformity’ is very difficult.

According to http://www.medicinenet.com dictionary of medical terms a malformation is a structural defect in the body due to abnormal embryonic or fetal development. While a deformation is a change from the normal size or shape of an anatomic structure due to mechanical forces that distort an otherwise normal structure.
So in frogs a malformation would be intrinsic (like a birth defect) which could be genetic or caused by an unknown teratological chemical (or ?) and a deformity is caused by extrinsic factors (like parasites or predators) disrupting otherwise normal tadpole limbs.

We do not know yet if the abnormalities in some of the frogs we have found this summer in Quebec are deformities or malformations. Please check back as our research continues!

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