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The frogs are out after heavy rains in Florida

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Heavy rains and storms in Central and South Florida last week caused widespread flooding and flight cancellations and triggered a state of emergency. Climate change is making this kind of intense rainfall much more common. That's because in a hotter atmosphere, the air holds a lot more moisture. But there's some good news. The heavy rains did help with drought conditions, and after a long silence, out came the frogs. Kerry Sheridan from member station WUSF in Sarasota sends us this audio postcard with an ecologist who monitors frog populations.

(SOUNDBITE OF FROGS AND TOADS VOCALIZING)

WIN EVERHAM: I think that's a Southern toad.

(SOUNDBITE OF FROGS AND TOADS VOCALIZING)

EVERHAM: Southern toads for sure. Keep going. I'm pretty sure that's Leopard frogs in there, too. And I'm hearing these Cuban tree frogs, and the pneumonic I use for them is like a door in a scary movie (imitating Cuban tree frog call).

My name is Win Everham. I'm a professor of ecology and environmental studies at the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University. I'm feeling, particularly in the last three to five years that one of the manifestations of climate change locally is that we're not necessarily getting less rain. We're just getting it in bigger slugs. So, you know, I've heard a lot of meteorologists talk about we're seeing, like, these three days is what we normally get for June as a whole.

Frogs are able to survive during the dry season. They can find refugia that will allow them to exist. So they've been there, but they aren't going to put their energy into calling until they know that the conditions are right for them to be able to reproduce. You know, why go to the bar and try and pick up a date when, you know, it's not going to do any good, right? So this is a signal to them all that - good time to make babies.

Sometimes one calling, like, triggers the rest of them to call because it's really males that are trying to say, I'm a better person to date. There's a poem by William Stafford, and he's got a line in there where he says, the frogs are singing their national anthem again (laughter). And then the next line is, I never knew a ditch could hold so much joy.

PFEIFFER: That piece was produced by WUSF's Kerry Sheridan.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEE SACRED SOULS SONG, "EASIER SAID THAN DONE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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