Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening  

Go Back   Wildlife Gardeners - North American Wildlife Gardening > Wildlife Gardeners of North America Unite > Biodiversity

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-03-2012, 09:59 PM   #1
Salamander
 
scarecrowsdrm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Grimes County,Texas
Question Silent Nights, Alien Songs

My five acre place and the surrounding rural neighborhood used to be full
of frogs and toads. No longer. According to my journals, which go back to
2004, there has been a dramatic decrease, and in the space of a few years the bottom has literally dropped out of our local populations. Whether due to the effects of severe drought or chytridiomycosis, the killer fungus, or any number of things combined.
August 2005: There was a thriving local population of Green and Gray
tree frogs, Cricket frogs, Spring peepers, Leopard frogs, Bullfrogs,
Eastern Narrowmouth toads and Gulf coast toads. Spring and summer nights were filled with their calls, which I learned to identify after a Texas
Parks and Wildlife course.
September 2007: The green tree frogs were especially abundant, and I
would see at least five at a time on one living room window at night,
leaving sticky residue from their little bodies as they chased bugs
attracted by the house lights.
April 2008: A drier than average year. The spring night was still filled with the “cranka cranka” calls of the greens accompanied by the grunts of the leopards and trills of the Gulf coast toads. But: No Narrowmouth toads, no Spring Peepers.
2009: Another very dry year---there were fewer frogs, and the
Mediterrenean geckos, which I saw only sporadically before in previous
years, exploded in numbers, and I was no longer seeing greens at my
windows, but geckos instead. I found one dehydrated and starving GC toad, which ate several crickets that I offered, then died.
2010-2011: Extreme drought, only two green tree frogs sighted, one or two calls from Leopard frogs. A few calls from gray tree frogs. Two dried and emaciated Gulf coast toads found.
2012: Out of all the species I heard or saw before in 2005, here are the
bleak numbers now: no green tree frogs sighted in the yard (though I have heard them calling at nearby ponds), no Narrowmouth toads, no spring peepers, 2 Leopard frogs (and a few calls), 1 bullfrog, 3 gray tree frogs, about 12 immature and mature Gulfcoast Toads. Silence in the nights, except for night insects, and the chirps
of the invasive geckos. There are many of those; I have seen as many as 10 geckos on my front living room window at night, with youngsters waiting in the wings. They like the hotter, drier climate, milder winters, and have completely supplanted the green tree frogs. The females have two clutches a year, and I have found them even inside my house.

Not only are these frog species are missing. I haven’t seen any of the once common five-lined skinks, and American anolesthat used to live around the house. And some species of spiders, like the impressive Golden garden spider and Spiny wood spider, which used to be common here, are now nowhere to be found.

Although I am convinced drought is in large part to blame (and possibly the fungus) for the loss of our amphibians, I wonder what part the geckos have had to play in the general scenario. The adults are large enough to eat small frogs and possibly other lizards. Do they? Does anyone know what consequences this alien species is having in ecosystems? I haven't found much information out there on this subject.
Attached Thumbnails
Silent Nights, Alien Songs-mediterranean-gecko.jpg  
scarecrowsdrm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2012, 12:06 AM   #2
Official Plant Nerd
 
Equilibrium's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default

Amphibian populations are declining.... that's for sure. It'd be hard pointing a finger at any 1 thing though. The pet industry, PAH runoff, introduced pathogens, pesticides, invasive species out-competing native flora in their breeding grounds, synthetic fertilizers, free roaming cats, pollution, habitat loss.... collectively.... they all whittle away at them. It's really sad because they're both predator and prey in ecological communities so when their population numbers drop.... it affects other species within their community like... salamanders that prey on frog larva.
--
They're considered a sentinel species.
__________________
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss
Equilibrium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 10:20 AM   #3
Curious George & UAOKA recipient
 
turttle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Default

I think your question about the geckos is a valid one. When I put in my pond, the first two years I had an explosion in grey tree frogs, then toads, and then bullfrogs found my pond. Since then I have considerably fewer tree frogs, and the vast numbers of toadlets that used to cover the ground for a few weeks at a time have thinned out. I think my whole ecosystem is more in balance now that I have more predators - I have increased prey species with all of the native plants I have put in, and with a delay of two years or so, I now have a visible increase in lizards, toads, black rat snakes and bullfrogs.

Your geckos are not supposed to be in your ecosystem, and they may be the "straw that broke the camel's back", on top of the severe drought, in dropping the bottom out of your local amphibians. I would ask your Texas herpetologic society (you have several, based in different parts of Texas, just Google it), and ask them specifically about your gecko question. Then let us all know!
__________________
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, this is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar. - Lord Byron

Turttle's pollinator garden
turttle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 11:33 AM   #4
Official Plant Nerd
 
Equilibrium's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default

I totally agree with turttle here on the gecko you took a photo of, "Your geckos are not supposed to be in your ecosystem". Quick search says quite a few folk are concerned with their rapid spread, Field Herp Forum • View topic - Tracking the Spread of Mediterranean House Geckos. It sucks that we didn't "let em go" and yet.... we're stuck dealing with em. They eat insects... not our natives but.... that doesn't mean they're not in direct competition for scarce resources with our natives. Me personally.... I'd put up some 4" pvc tubes in areas where I've been seeing em and I'd collect up what I could and stick em in my deep freeze for a good 10 days then dig a trench in the middle of my composter and bury em. I guess it depends on what you're able to deal with. I was looking for humane ways to dispatch these and did a quick search for benzocaine and found this "lively" discussion on Cuban tree frogs that provides a little insight into 1 of the reasons why exotic herps are becoming such a problem.... folk aren't dispatching em when they encounter em.... which is a shame but I do understand some people just don't have it in em to kill them, Thoughts on killing Cuban Tree Frogs? - Florida Gardening Forum - GardenWeb.
__________________
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss
Equilibrium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 01:12 PM   #5
Salamander
 
scarecrowsdrm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Grimes County,Texas
Default

Thanks for the great info, guys---I have been in a quandary as to whether to start dispatching these lizards. But every year their population grows, and it is pretty obvious that nothing much is eating them. Clearly a lack of balance there. If we were in disaster mode, we could probably eat them--they look like they could be tasty! Equil, could you explain that PVC pipe thingie? These guys have pretty sticky feet and can climb on glass, so I am wondering how that works... I will also check with the Austin Herp group, as you suggested, Turttle!
scarecrowsdrm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 01:39 PM   #6
Official Plant Nerd
 
Equilibrium's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default

Supposedly.... geckos like hidey holes like pvc tunnels, DIY: Useful Gecko Things You Can Make | Gecko Time. They use pvc down south to get Cuban tree frogs so I don't see why not, WEC263/UW308: How To Make a Treefrog House. This isn't my photo and I don't have permission to use it but I'm pretty sure if I contacted him and waited a few days.... I'd get permission since you're wanting help removing an invasive. Anywhoo.... I'm adding the photo but I'm gonna take it down right after you tell me you saw it. I think the last articles I linked to should give you something to try for now. I'd be curious knowing if pvc tubes work for you. They're sorta along the same lines as putting out rolls of corrugated cardboard then hosing em down with water to attract earwigs and slugs.
__________________
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Dr. Seuss

Last edited by Equilibrium; 09-07-2012 at 02:56 PM. Reason: taking out somebody else's photo
Equilibrium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #7
Salamander
 
scarecrowsdrm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Grimes County,Texas
Default

Ok, thanks, Equil I saw it---and the aricles gave me some good ideas. I will see what I can do with it---got lots of PVC around! Thanks again!
scarecrowsdrm is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
alien, nights, silent, songs

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2