After heavy rains in Florida, the frogs are out


Heavy rains and storms in central and southern Florida caused widespread flooding and flight cancellations last week, prompting a state of emergency. Climate change is making this type of intense rainfall much more common. That's because the air in a hotter atmosphere holds much more moisture. But there's good news, too. The heavy rains actually helped with the drought, and after a long silence, the frogs came out. Kerry Sheridan of member station WUSF in Sarasota sends us this audio postcard featuring an ecologist who monitors frog populations.

(Sound recording of frogs and toads singing)

WIN EVERHAM: I think that's a southern toad.

(Sound recording of frogs and toads singing)

EVERHAM: Definitely southern toads. Let's go. I'm pretty sure there are leopard frogs in there too. And I hear these Cuban tree frogs, and the pneumonia I use for them is like a door in a horror movie (imitates the call of a Cuban tree frog).

My name is Win Everham. I'm a professor of ecology and environmental studies in the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University. I feel like, particularly in the last three to five years, one of the effects of climate change locally is that we're not necessarily getting less rain. We're just getting it in larger amounts. I've heard a lot of meteorologists talk about how those three days are equivalent to what we normally get in June total.

Frogs can survive the dry season. They can find places to retreat to that allow them to survive. So they've been there, but they're not going to put their energy into calling until they know the conditions are right for them to reproduce. Why go to the bar and try to pick up a date if it's not going to work, right? That's a signal to all of them – a good time to have babies.

Sometimes one call will spark other calls because they're men who want to say, “I'm a better person to date.” There's a poem by William Stafford and there's a line where he says, “The frogs are singing their national anthem again” (laughs). And the next line is, “I never thought a ditch could hold so much joy.”

PFEIFFER: This piece was produced by Kerry Sheridan of WUSF.


Anna Harden

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