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Wood Frog: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, eh?
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Wood Frog: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, eh?

[caption id="attachment_36590" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tina-Louise Rossit,
Guest Blogger.[/caption] This blog is written by Nature Canada guest blogger Tina-Louise Rossit. Canada is cold. We know it, tourists know it, and the wildlife know it. But despite the cold, we’ve been doing fine with clothing and heating devices to help us through. Well, same goes for our Canadian wildlife! Over the course of evolution, these animals developed remarkable features to survive our winters, and maybe even better than any man-made technology! Today’s honourary species is an expert at hibernation. The Wood Frog, Rana sylvaticus, has amazed scientists with their ultimate freezing method. They can freeze their bodies, stop their heartbeat, and remain in this state all winter. Then, springtime hits, and they come back to life. It’s spectacular. Ready to defrost this mystery? Wood frogs are tiny frogs about 5cm in length, with molted tan-brown skin that camouflages among forest floor leaf litter. They have a distinctive dark brown “eye-mask”, making them an easy species to identify.  A true Canadian amphibian, they’re found in every province and territory. As their name implies, they like wooden areas. Their only condition is that there is a fresh water source for breeding and laying eggs. When the winter melts away, vernal pools or temporary ponds without fish, are the best places for Wood Frogs to breed in.  Since vernal pools have no big predators, insects and other invertebrates come to breed here too, and it’s perfect for Wood Frogs and their tadpoles, since that’s exactly what they like to eat! After a good summer’s worth of eating and building up reserves, the usual frog routine would be to find a pond, dig a hole in its bottom, and avoid freezing over winter. Not the Wood Frog! They do not go for the usual routine and instead choose to borrow under a thin layer of leaf litter to allow their bodies to freeze. And this happens rather quickly since temperature rapidly fall to sub-zero temperatures. With a range well into the Arctic Circle, we’re talking real cold conditions! Ice crystals form along their tiny bodies and as they turn rock solid. For scientists who study living tissues at extreme low temperatures (cryobiologists), they are astounded at the Wood Frog’s capability to preserve themselves for 4-6 months in this icy coma every single year. Obviously, research and studies on these frogs were needed at once! And so, studies conducted were to recreate Wood Frogs’ natural habitat and temperature cycles in labs such as to observe them and run tests on their tissues and blood component levels. Freezing your cells can cause rupturing and irreversible damage yet Wood Frogs bypass this. As winter arrives, the Wood Frog’s liver begins overproducing glucose (sugar) and urea (a waste product found in urine) to be transported throughout the organs, tissues and cells. The high concentration of both substances is naturally dangerous but does nothing to harm these frogs. Actually, this is their antifreeze recipe! Their cellular activity slows down to absolute minimum but is not stopped completely. Although their blood is functionable, it will not flow at that low activity level. Once winter is over, their cells, tissues and organs start to function until they reach their usual capacity without any difference. They can hop around and start their springtime day. They gain a vital advantage by doing this; since all animals that are still hibernating under water, it’s the Wood Frogs that get to the vernal pools first and start finding food and breeding. Wood Frogs represent extreme evolutionary outcomes. There is still much to study from this species since their natural hibernation mechanism can help improve the science of organ preservation for human transplants, glucose management for diabetic patients and reperfusion injuries in heart attacks and strokes. Understanding what Wood Frog’s have been doing for eons can help save human lives in the future!


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Bibliography http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/creature/woodfrog/wf2.html http://www.naturenorth.com/winter/frozen/Ffrozen2.html https://www.units.miamioh.edu/cryolab/projects/woodfrogfreezing.htm https://owlcation.com/stem/Frozen-Wood-Frogs-and-Adaptations-for-Survival

The Impact of Food Waste on the Environment
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The Impact of Food Waste on the Environment

This blog was written by Nature Canada guest blogger Dylan Moskowitz. On this World Environment Day, we are discussing sustainability, food waste in Canada, and the impact that is has on our environment. Unfortunately, sustainability isn’t so easily defined when it comes to its relationship with the global environment, as we have the tendency to understand sustainability only on a superficial level. Nonetheless, to influence change and to protect wildlife and landscapes across Canada, we must ask ourselves: what is sustainability to each of us, and how does the term influence what we do in our daily lives? Today, we are focusing our what can be done by each of us, starting with the food we buy, but don't eat.


According to a recent study conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the average Canadian wastes over 170 kilograms of food per year. This staggering statistic indicates that food waste is highly correlated to over-consumption and financial mismanagement. Besides financial toll, the amount of food waste in Canada also shows that there is an opportunity for food to be diverted from landfills, and put to a better use from the get-go.  FoodBanks of Canada reported that 13% of Canadians do not have enough access to quality food. The high amount of food insecurity in Canada further suggests that if fellow Canadians bought less food, cooked meals ahead of time, or even composted food themselves, the problems of increasing food waste and food insecurity would be greatly mitigated. Beyond personal satisfaction, reducing food waste has obvious environmental benefits. The environmental impact of food waste stems from the greenhouse gases that result from its preparation and decomposition. Methane from food waste rotting in landfills is 25 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It is not only the methane from food waste that must be considered, but also the methane emitted and resources used throughout the entire period of growing, processing and transporting food. The current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has pledged to cut methane emissions from 40-45% by the year 2025. This pledge by the Trudeau administration further implies that Canada is aiming to become a major contender on how we perceive, treat, and use food waste to create a more effective and efficient society. Apart from introducing a “new Canadian society,” the political pledges made by the current Canadian administration demonstrates that reducing methane emissions provides incentives for both companies and individuals for the health of our entire societies.
By diminishing our individual food waste we can begin the journey to reduce the impact of food waste on wildlife and nature in Canada, and move forward to make Canada one of the primary influences of sustainability
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