CWRU researcher studies how weather affects wood frogs: After warmer winters, wood frogs breed earlier and produce fewer eggs, a Case Western Reserve University researcher has found.
Michael Benard, an assistant professor of biology, also found that frogs produce more eggs during winters with more rain and snow.
Benard’s study, published Monday in the journal Global Change Biology, is among the first in a natural habitat to measure the consequences of one of the major effects of climate change: warmer temperatures that lead to earlier breeding in amphibians and other animals.
Benard also found that when wood frogs breed early in the year, their offspring have delayed development but still metamorphose earlier in the year. He identified the broad patterns by examining and tracking important life events of more than 50,000 juvenile and hundreds of adult wood frogs over seven years and comparing the data to winter weather records.
“There have been lab studies on the effects of warming on frog breeding, but what we see in the lab is not exactly what we’re seeing in the field,” Benard said.
Benard was a fellow at the University of Michigan’s when he began the study at six ponds. Benard is now continuing the study in Northeast Ohio.