The Frogs of Baldwin Lake

 
The Frogs of Baldwin Lake
 
Early traveler’s accounts of visits to Rancho Santa Anita provide an interesting perspective on the property. Some are quite perfunctory, others romantic nonsense and a few are oddly laden with data whose accuracy is impossible to assess.
 
However, one account by Mrs. Frank Leslie published in 1877 makes a remark that is quite striking. “Returning we stopped at the little lake, literally in front of Mr. Baldwin’s door, and we were rowed out on his pretty little boat upon its moonlit waters. The shores were lined with little coves in which herons and cranes were rustling about, and a chorus of frogs came in like a hailstorm of castanets.”
 
Overall Mrs. Leslie’s account strikes one as accurate and the comments of an intelligent woman of the period, unusually so in fact. The scene described would be much the same today but without the boat and perhaps most strikingly, the frogs. What happened to the frogs of Baldwin Lake? A few bullfrogs make a home in the lily pools of the Tropical Forest and are occasionally heard in the evenings. Bullfrogs originally did not occur in the far West so these are probably recent introductions. Presumably like so many other aquatic animals at the Arboretum they were left to make a new life here by their former owners smuggled in by purse backpack or some other container.
 
When Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published the world was startled by the idea of a world in which birdsong was no longer a part of life in Spring and galvanized the conservation movement. However, we now are apparently living in a world in which the sound of frogs is increasingly absent except in more remote areas.
 
Apparently the cause is the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis known as Bd. The Amphibian Ark website discusses the fungus in some detail. While we have no certain knowledge that this is the cause for the absence or frogs in Baldwin Lake, the fungus has decimated amphibian populations world wide.
 
What, if anything, can be done to restore amphibians to Baldwin Lake remains to be seen. Perhaps, resistant animals will survive and repopulate our remaining wetlands. It is more likely that amphibians will continue to decline. Surviving individuals are infected with the fungus but somehow manage to survive in spite of the infection. 
 

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden • 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 • Website Design by Kirk Projects.

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

301 N. Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA, 91007

Site Design by Kirk Projects