The issue of the problems created by the spreading of salt on the roads, an action carried out mainly to combat snow levels on roads, is the subject of a new study, this time published in Chemistry and Ecology.
Researchers believe that the effects of chemical contamination caused by salt spillage on the roads can cause serious damage to native amphibians, which may be of decisive benefit to non-native amphibians.
A team of researchers at Binghamton University is of this opinion.
The researchers focused primarily on Lithobates pipiens, also known as the “leopard frog”, a frog native to North America, and Xenopus laevis, also known as the smooth xenopus or African clawed foot frog or African clawed foot frog, native to Africa.
Researchers found that the non-native frog was much better able to withstand chemical changes due to salt. This suggested that non-native amphibian species may have a crucial competitive advantage when introduced into the new environment.
The aquatic ecosystems where frogs live are extremely sensitive to changes in salt levels, which can lead to chemical changes in the water.
“People are changing natural environments in many ways, so it is important to understand how these changes affect wild plant and animal populations in order to better protect them,” says George Meindl, a researcher in environmental studies and one of the authors of the study.
The researchers also conducted experiments in the laboratory by exposing frog eggs to metal solutions that mimicked the chemical changes caused by salt. The researchers found that increases in metal concentrations actually resulted in less susceptibility to salt from non-native tadpoles. Native tadpoles were in fact characterized by more accelerated levels of death.
These results show that the use of salt could actually give an advantage to invasive species, at least for the frogs analysed.