By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
She’s known to kids as “the bug lady.” Others call her “the detective.” Dr. Elizabeth Davidson, an entomologist, and research scientist at Arizona State University, got these titles a few years ago when she became involved in exploring the mysterious decline and disappearance of frogs and salamanders.
Her research has led to collaborations with scientists who have discovered viruses, bacteria, and fungi that may be involved in the deaths of thousands of amphibians. One fungus in particular has been associated with the death of frogs in North America, Central and South America, Australia, and more recently in Asia and Africa.
Getting Kids Involved
Three years ago Dr. Davidson began to volunteer as a tutor for second and third graders in reading through the All-Star Kids tutoring program in the Phoenix area. Her hope was to get these children involved and teach them why they need to care about frogs and salamanders.
“Frogs and salamanders are fascinating animals, and are lots of fun to watch and listen to when they sing in the evening,” she explains. “Because they eat bugs that bite us, like mosquitoes, they are good for us in many ways. And at the same time they act as food for fish, birds, snakes, and other animals.”
“If children know that frogs and salamanders are good for us,” she continues, “they can tell their parents and friends that they should not be afraid of them but rather should care for them.”
Her concern led her to write a children’s book called “Cheery,” which focuses on the true story of the decline of the Chiricahua Leopard Frogs in Arizona and nearby areas, and the efforts of scientists and zoos to bring these frogs back to their homes.
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Davidson’s book, click here.
You can also hear Cheery and watch a promotional video about this book.