Cover image for In search of the golden frog
In search of the golden frog
Crump, Martha L.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiv, 299 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 24 cm
From Kansas to the Emerald Forest -- Amazonian Brazil -- Field course in Costa Rica -- The many ways to beget a frog -- Want some respect? Wave a viper -- Expressing the rain -- Lost gold of the Elfin Forest -- Mama llamas and toothy escuerzos -- The Maxus experience -- Remembering Ayahuasca -- Tadpole toters -- Reflections.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL656.C35 C78 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Marty Crump has searched for salamanders along the Amazon River; she has surveyed amphibians and reptiles in hostile Huaorani Indian territory; she has been stung by a conga ant and had run-ins with an electric eel, a boa constrictor, and a bushmaster viper. In the course of her travels she has dined, not always eagerly, on wild rat, parrot, guinea pig, and chicken foot soup. And for those among us who prefer our experiences to be vicarious and far away from biting insects, venomous snakes, and inhospitable surroundings, she has written In Search of the Golden Frog .

The book is a detailed and fascinating chronicle of Crump's adventures as a field biologist--and as a wife and mother--in South and Central America. Following Crump on her research trips through Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, we learn of amazingly diverse landscapes, equally diverse national traditions and customs, and the natural history of her subject of study, the frog. In leading us through rain forests and onto windswept coasts, Crump introduces us to such compelling creatures as female harlequin frogs, who pounce on males and pound their heads against the ground, and also sounds an alarm about the precipitous decline in amphibian populations around the globe.

Crump's perspectives as both a scientist and a mother, juggling the demands of family and professional life, make this highly readable account of fieldwork simultaneously close to home and wildly exotic. A combination of nature writing and travel writing, the richly illustrated In Search of the Golden Frog will whet travelers' appetites, affirm the experiences of seasoned field biologists, and offer the armchair naturalist vivid descriptions of amphibians and their habitats.

Author Notes

Marty Crump is Adjunct Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University and a Conservation Fellow of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Since 1968, biologist Crump has trekked through forests, across ponds and into the treetops of Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile looking for all sorts of reptiles and amphibians, and especially for frogs and toadsÄpop-eyed and poisonous, quizzical or questionable, rambunctious or round-bellied, sinuous, triangular or unfortunately extinct. Crump's colloquial and quite readable book about her adventures and discoveries belongs to a rapidly growing subgenre of popular science writing: she has simply adapted her field notes and diaries, giving a day-by-day, blow-by-blow, sloth-by-snake-by-toad account of her life in the tropical wild. Crump, who teaches herpetology at Northern Arizona University, attempts neither a grand story about the progress of bioscience, nor an autobiography, nor an analysis of developing nations' eco-policies, though material for all three can be extracted from her journals: instead, she simply explains what it's like to be her. We readers learn, as she does, astonishing data about frog reproduction; we meet beauteous bromeliads, scary scorpions and "mama llamas." We encounter the government and corporate employees who escort her teams to wild regions, and the native peoples who live thereÄon one 1993 jaunt, these include friendly Quechua groups (with rifles) and "Huaoranis who refuse contact with outsiders and spear anyone who enters their territory." And we hear, with pleasant frequency, how Crump, a mother of two, balances work and family. At one point, partner Peter, young Karen and an even-younger Rob accompany the narrator to Argentina, and their domestic worlds give Crump an enticingÄif exhaustingÄcounterpoint to her professional endeavors. Armchair, aspiring or actual field biologists will certainly sympathize with Crump as she manages her panoply of little disasters, delights and real discoveries. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Incorporating her fieldwork journals, Crump (biology, Northern Arizona Univ.) has written an excellent account of her 30 years as a field biologist in Central and South America. Like Margaret Lowman in Life in the Treetops (LJ 5/15/99), she discusses the trials and tribulations of combining motherhood and field research and also explains how the research was done, though she worked with frogs rather than plants. Crump's sympathetic observations of the local people, their history, and some of their problems with large oil companies, political changes, and habitat destruction to facilitate grazing add an extra dimension. Crump effectively documents the worldwide decline of amphibian populations, including that of Costa Rica's famous golden frog, stressing that this trend should warn us of problems with our environment. A combination travelog, field guide, and history book, Crump's book is an excellent addition to any public or academic library.DMargaret Henderson, Cold Spring Harbor Academics, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Accomplished herpetologist Crump utilized her many years of tropical field notes to write this excellent volume on her travels in Central and South America. She vividly describes, in date-oriented journal form, an array of adventures and observations in 12 chapters. Readers share her experiences while being entertained and elucidated by the informative narratives. The preface highlights Crump's childhood interests and how they led to many years of studies in the tropics. This chronicle of her travels and biological studies in Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Costa Rica covers 30 years, from 1968 to 1998. Besides the amphibians and reptiles, many delightful accounts of native peoples and their foods, habits, and local customs are included. There are descriptions of selected aspects of the vegetation, terrain, rivers, and general ecology as well as illuminating anecdotal commentaries on encounters with various fishes, mammals, birds, and arthropods. Chapter 12 presents Crump's reflections on encroaching human influences, habitat losses, and declining species diversity. Illustrations include 16 color photographs, more than 50 monochrome photos, and eight full-page maps. Appendixes list scientific and vernacular names for animals discussed and hypotheses for declining amphibian populations. This natural history book has little technical terminology, and any reader can easily comprehended and enjoy it. Highly recommended. General readers; undergraduates through faculty. E. D. Keiser; University of Mississippi

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1 From Kansas to the Emerald Forestp. 1
2 Amazonian Brazilp. 29
3 Field Course in Costa Ricap. 56
4 The Many Ways to Beget a Frogp. 71
5 Want Some Respect? Wave a Viperp. 101
6 Expressing in the Rainp. 119
7 Lost Gold of the Elfin Forestp. 144
8 Mama Llamas and Toothy Escuerzosp. 166
9 The Maxus Experiencep. 195
10 Remembering Ayahuascap. 219
11 Tadpole Totersp. 236
12 Reflectionsp. 261
Epiloguep. 269
Mapsp. 271
Appendix A Common and Scientific Names of Amphibians and Reptilesp. 279
Appendix B Declining Amphibian Populationsp. 282
Bibliography and Suggested Readingp. 287
Indexp. 291