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Road Salt Negatively Impacts Frog Health, Study Finds

posted: 08/18/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Wood frog
Steve Byland/iStock

Road salt has a potentially devastating impact on wood frogs, according to a new study from Case Western University.

Each spring, melting snow transports millions of tons of road salt into local ponds and streams. For the first time, researchers studied the impacts of this highly concentrated salt runoff on wood frogs across several stages of life -- with a surprising conclusion.

Wood frog tadpoles exposed to salt eventually grew into larger frogs, an outcome that was expected to contribute to a higher survival rate. As it turns out, however, the salt-exposed frogs had higher than normal mortality rates.

"We would predict the frogs that are larger at metamorphosis would do better -- larger body mass is usually an indication that they are more fit," posits Kacey Dananay, a Case Western Reserve PhD student who led the study. "Maybe they're more susceptible to disease or there's a physiological change we can't see."

"This study really shows that you need to look across multiple life stages to get a good look at what environmental pollutants are doing," she adds.

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