Frog and toad populations are in serious trouble everywhere. They are being harmed by loss of habitat, chemicals in stormwater runoff, and from hunting for food or for medical and educational use. Frogs and toads are especially vulnerable to habitat loss and pollution because they live in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, as well as "in between" habitats like wetlands and the riparian zone along streams, which are the most heavily impacted habitats of all.
The good news is that many communities are beginning to take measures to regulate stormwater runoff. This gives us a wonderful opportunity to think of ways to simultaneously improve frog and toad habitat while reducing flooding and water pollution, which is a real win-win situation. (A good example of this can be seen in the projects that are being built in Johnson County and you can show the BMP tour as an example.)
There are six species of frogs and toads that live in and along the Kansas River. Each one has a unique and interesting way of life that we will study in these lessons.
This unit consists of four parts, the first of which is preparation for the three exercises that follow:
All of the software used in this lesson can be downloaded free of cost. You will need an internet connection to use Google Documents and Google Earth; Google SketchUp can be used offline for basic work, but you will need an internet connection to download from the 3D warehouse. There are many useful tutorials available on YouTube, however, since many schools block YouTube we provide all the directions you need on this website.
We recommend using Firefox as your browser (both Explorer and Safari will give you many error messages) Click here to download Firefox
You will need to be 14 and older to create a Google Account; younger
students can do similar exercises offline by going to our Middle School
website click for student materials, click for teacher materials. Google Documents can't be used to create presentations on iPads and tablets, so we recommend that students either use a Microsoft Office App to create their slideshows, or work on a computer.
Google Earth can be viewed but not edited on iPads and tablets, so we recommend that students use a computer for this lesson.
Google SketchUp is difficult to use on a laptop with a trackpad and is difficult to use on iPads and tablets. We recommend that students use a computer with a mouse when available (and best with a mouse that has a scroll wheel).
Detailed directions are provided on the Make A Field Guide, Habitat Survey, and Make A Frog Park pages. While each unit is set up to stand alone, they are designed to build on each other in order. Depending on how proficient students are with computers and whether they have experience with Google Earth and Google SketchUp, exercises will take 2-3 hours each. You may wish to assign students to teams, with each team member researching out different species and mapping different areas. The team members can combine their work into a single presentation.
These three lessons can be adapted to any species, and if you live outside of our area you can easily modify them for the species and habitats in your region.
Students should be encouraged to create "frog parks" that are within the ability of individual property owners, schools, or communities to actually create. There is funding available in many communities for stormwater Best Management Practices, and this can be used for "frog parks" in a very practical sense. We provide extensive resources for stormwater BMP's on our website, click here
Friends of the Kaw's Stormwater Website
Friends of the Kaw's Water Quality Website
Kansas Herpetological Atlas
Atrazine turns males into females