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University of South Florida Student Wins Award For Her Research On Harmful Fungicide

Santa Cruz, CA, June 8, 2010 – A University of South Florida has reason to celebrate. Taegan McMahon, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology, has been awarded the 2010 SAVE THE FROGS! Conference Travel Grant for her research into chlorothalonil, one of the world’s most common - and deadly - fungicides. The $500 prize will allow Taegan to present the results of her research at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Providence, Rhode Island this July. The award was granted by SAVE THE FROGS!, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting amphibians.

Teagan’s research showed that chlorothalonil is extremely lethal to three species of Florida’s frogs, even at concentrations commonly previously assumed to be safe. The chemical is the second most commonly used fungicide in America, and is often used by homeowners on peanuts, potatoes and tomatoes. “People use pesticides like chlorothalonil on their gardens and many have no idea how harmful it can be not only to themselves, but also to the environment” says Taegan. “Chlorothalonil is deadly to amphibians one thousand times below the expected environmental concentration. I feel really strongly that research that shows people that their behaviors (for example pesticide use) can have direct effects on the environment’s health is extremely impactful and pertinent."

Amphibian populations worldwide have been declining at unprecedented rates, and up to 200 species have already completely disappeared in recent years. “There are over 18,000 registered pesticides in the United States” says Dr. Kerry Kriger, Founder & Executive Director of SAVE THE FROGS. “Amphibians have permeable skin that absorbs the pollutants and pesticides that inevitably end up in the water bodies where they live and breed. Many of these pesticides weaken amphibians’ immune responses, and some are endocrine disruptors that actually change male frogs into females.”

Dr. Kriger, whose group is based in California, is currently working to obtain a federal ban on the use and production of Atrazine, one of the world’s most common herbicides. Atrazine has been shown to create a slew of negative effects on an array of wildlife. SAVE THE FROGS! is currently organizing the International Day of Pesticide Action, planned for October 24th, 2010. “Our goal is to get 100,000 people marching through the streets of Washington DC to make sure our legislators know these chemicals don’t belong in our food and water”, says Dr. Kriger.

Kerry Kriger, Ph.D.
SAVE THE FROGS! Founder, Executive Director and Ecologist
Phone: (831) 621-6215

SAVE THE FROGS! ( is America’s first and only public charity dedicated to amphibian conservation. The mission of SAVE THE FROGS! is to protect amphibian populations and to promote a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife.