Report: Snakes Die of Hunger Because of Declining Frog Population

Category: Science/Environment

Listening

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. starving / ˈstɑr vɪŋ / (adj) – suffering or dying because of extreme hunger
    Example:

    The animals are starving from the lack of nearby food sources.


  2. wipe out (something) / waɪp aʊt / (phrasal) – to completely remove or destroy something
    Example:

    This insect spray can wipe out the virus-carrying mosquitoes in the area.


  3. infect / ɪnˈfɛkt / (v) – to cause someone or something to get a disease
    Example:

    Some of the animals were infected by the bacteria.


  4. sighting / ˈsaɪ tɪŋ / (n) – an occasion in which an uncommon or unusual person or thing is seen
    Example:

    Navy pilots reported multiple UFO sightings during their flights.


  5. keep (something) down / kip daʊn / (phrasal) – to keep the number or size of something at a low level
    Example:

    The manager hopes to keep the product prices down by finding cheaper raw materials.


Article

Read the text below.

Scientists believe that the snakes in Panama, Central America, are starving because of frog population decline.


In their report, scientists from the University of Maryland and Michigan State University found that the decreasing number of snake species in Panama is related to a frog disease.


A fungal disease wiped out a number of frog species in Central America. Since frogs and other amphibians are snakes’ main food source, the number and variety of snake species also naturally diminished.


The scientists studied the snake population in one of Panama’s national parks for 13 years. They compared the data they collected seven years before the fungus appeared with the data they got six years after the fungus infected the area.


Before the fungus appeared, the scientists found 30 different snake species in the park, but afterward, they only found 21. The snakes they found were also skinnier and appeared to be starving.


Because snake sightings are rare, the scientists were not able to determine the exact number of snake species that declined. Nonetheless, they are certain that the drop in frog population caused the decrease in snake numbers. Other environmental factors were ruled out because the park has a protected environment.


According to the scientists, the findings are significant to animal conservation research. One of the authors, Elise Zipkin, says that the findings impact other animals, and in turn affect people. Co-author Julie Ray warned that if snakes become extinct, the whole ecosystem will be affected because snakes keep rodent population down and serve as food for other animals.


Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think humans will be greatly affected if snakes become extinct? Why or why not?
• Apart from the ways mentioned in the article, how else does snake extinction affect humans and the ecosystem? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you agree that it is important to investigate the effects of a species' extinction? Why or why not?
• In your opinion, the extinction of what animal will most greatly affect humans? Explain.