Toad mapping – another cool tool

What amphibians can be found in your local biome? Great Plains toad, Bufo cognatusWhat is the range of a particular amphibian, say the Great Plains toad? What does that toad look like? How does it sing?

hear call (10337.1K WAV file)

Great source to supplement geography lessons: Amphibiaweb, a special project at the University of California – Berkeley.

Quite student friendly — get to the world map, click on your continent (ooh! kids gotta know what continent they’re on! see social studies TEKS, World geography 4.C, U.S. history 8, World history 11), click on your country, if you’re in the U.S., click on your state. Photos, maps of the range, scientific names, sound recordings of their calls, description, conservation status.

AmphibiaWeb is an online system enabling anyone with a Web browser to search and retrieve information relating to amphibian biology and conservation. This site was inspired by the global declines of amphibians, the study of which has been hindered by the lack of multidisplinary studies and a lack of coordination in monitoring, in field studies, and in lab studies. We hope AmphibiaWeb will encourage a shared vision for the study of global amphibian declines and the conservation of remaining amphibians.

We have the ambitious goal of establishing a “home page” for every species of amphibian in the world. In order to accomplish this goal we encourage volunteers and specialists to help us prepare species accounts. If you have special interest in a particular species, please contact us.

AmphibiaWeb already offers ready access to taxonomic information for recognized species of amphibian in the world. Species accounts are being added regularly by specialists and volunteers and they contain species descriptions, life history information, conservation status, literature references, photos and range maps for many species. Some species have complete accounts; others as yet have only photographs or maps. But all species can be queried for taxonomic, distributional and exact specimen data.

AmphibiaWeb currently (Aug 16, 2007) contains 6190 species, for which we have approximately 1371 species accounts, 1172 distribution maps, 3602 literature references, 153 sound files, and 9901 photos of 2000 different amphibian species. These data come from numerous individuals–please see our acknowledgements page for information about our contributors.

AmphibiaWeb has been created in conjunction with the Digital Library Project at the University of California, Berkeley, which hosts this Web site and developed the technology used for viewing species information and photos.

This is the sort of tool that can make classes interesting for students. Alas, it is also exactly the sort of tool that can be targeted by state boards of education in their attempts to purge social studies curricula of material they find “offensive,” such as the fact that amphibians worldwide are in decline, with many endangered by climate change, habitat destruction, and chemical abuse.

Map showing diversity of amphibians worldwide

This should be a straightforward tool. Some of us recall when the Texas State Board of Education complained about environmental science texts because they mentioned global warming. These maps and databases from Berkeley are tools in the war against ignorance.

4 Responses to Toad mapping – another cool tool

  1. jd2718 says:

    When I worked for American Map I used their county map of the US for my blotter. When I became a teacher (math, but with an interest in geography) I looked for outline maps on paper or electronic format… nada. I am so embarrassed when I go to other countries and people can quickly sketch maps of their neighborhood, town, region, or country… and a few of my (fairly sharp) students can’t consistently pick out states from a blank map and most of them couldn’t sketch any part of our city at all. But yeah, available resources? Social studies folks would know best, but I’ve struck out (unless I’m going to go out and pay for them, and there’s no chance… it’s not even my subject)


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Some group of county governments — a COG (council of governments) or county association — probably has GIS tools that can import databases from other applications, and generate maps from almost any set of data. There is probably a universal map in some nice format that labels every county or borough or parish in the U.S. with the same identifier, and which then can import data coded with those county designations from toad density maps, agriculture zones, climate zones, population numbers and density, education attainment, racial diversity, etc., etc., etc.

    But are those things made available to teachers? I’ve never found it. Once I knew a friendly cartographer at a COG who slipped a couple of relevant maps our way, on paper.

    There are very powerful mapping tools available, most of them beyond the financial ability of the lone teacher trying to get tools for the classroom. Our engineers at PrimeCo PCS (then Verizon Wireless) cranked out maps daily , road overlays on topographical data, new tower sites, old tower sites, coverage areas as calculated by the engineering tools versus coverage areas actually experienced by the test phones; the maps were in color. Stripping the proprietary data out, you could make great maps of the state and local areas. If you had the information, you could plug in migration routes of pioneers, or original city limits, or anything.

    And of course, you need some of those zowie-grosso printers the CAD guys and architects use. I personally think every social studies department should have one or two of them, for maps and larger displays.

    But that takes a bit of cash, and everybody “knows” we can’t make kids smart by throwing cash at problems.


  3. jd2718 says:

    Btw, that county outline basemap makes a very nice visually proxy for population density.


  4. […] Frogs: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub takes us to a cool site where one can look up the kinds of toads an…. […]


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