He is to frogs what Frank Caliendo is to President Bush. Dr. Wayne Van Devender, a salamander authority and biology professor at Appalachian State, we salute you for your frog calls. Dr. Van Devender will be speaking on the amphibian decline June 12 in Macon County, N.C., in the Highlands Nature Center. Here’s more on his topic and background. We’re fascinated.

Amphibians are disappearing around the world. Sometimes it is just some individuals. Sometimes it is whole populations. Sometimes it is really extinction.

For the last 20 to 30 years, scientists around the world have searched for reasons for the disappearances with some success and a dire warning. Many populations have been destroyed by our own direct and indirect actions (and inactions). Many other populations and species seem to be crashing in response to one or several new emergent diseases that have swept over the globe in record time. Amphibians have been compared to the miner’s canary with the amphibian declines warning us that our environmental quality is declining to such an extent that we must take action now or humans may be the next golden frogs of Costa Rica which are now extinct. Dr. Robert Wayne Van Devender will address global concerns about amphibian declines, present an overview of the amphibians of the Southern Appalachians and provide a commentary on threats to their survival.

Van Devender has been catching lizards since the age of three. He carried this interest into undergraduate work at Yale University. He did graduate work at the University of Michigan, where he worked on “Jesus Christ” lizards as part of his doctoral work. Since joining the faculty at Appalachian State University, he has expanded his research interests to include amphibians, mammals and land snails, and has traveled to all of the continents except Antarctica. Most recently, he has been doing herpetological surveys in Vietnam and working with his wife of 34 years, Amy, on the land snails of North Carolina project. In the 30 years Van Devender has taught at Appalachian he has directed more than 15 master’s students, and developed a substantial teaching and research collection of vertebrates and land snails.

The Zahner Conservation Lecture Series is held each Thursday during the summer months at 7 p.m. at the Highlands Nature Center, 930 Horse Cove Road For a complete schedule, visit www.wcu.edu/hbs.