Amphibian declines : a United States' response to the global by Michael J Lannoo

By Michael J Lannoo

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1994), which are now being used by investigators. A database was then established at Task Force headquarters to receive reports from field investigators. This database is now fully operational. Summaries of the field information are disseminated to Task Force participants through FROGLOG (now a bimonthly newsletter) and other forms of communication as particular situations require. More than 3,000 individuals, including all participating investigators, currently receive FROGLOG. In developed countries where there is an established base of investigators, the network of regional and sub-regional Working Groups is largely complete and in the field.

Popper (1959) claimed to have solved this problem and argued that the strongest support for a theory comes from tests that have a good chance of refuting that theory. That is, a theory gains greater credence as it survives repeated attempts to refute it. Drawing from the teachings of Popper, Lakatos (1970) outlined what has come to be called the methodology of “scientific research programmes” for formulating and testing scientific theories. Using this method, one formulates a hard core, or a set of claims that cannot be rejected without rejecting the research program altogether (Larvor, 1998).

During 1988, however, something was definitely wrong. I found only one golden toad in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in northwestern Costa Rica; in the previous year I had seen over 1,500 individuals. During the following month, I could not find harlequin frogs (Atelopus varius) at my study site along the Río Lagarto near Monteverde—on a single day just the year before, I had found over 700 individuals. In the literally hundreds of times I had censused the stream in recent years, harlequin frogs were always abundant, no matter the time of year, no matter the weather conditions.

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