Frog chooses whether to lay eggs on land or in water
May 19, 2008
Researchers in Panama have discovered a frog that can choose whether it lays its eggs on land or in water. It is the first time such “reproductive flexibility” has been found in a vertebrate.
Observing the egg-laying behavior of Dendropsophus ebraccatus in different environments, Boston University researchers Justin C. Touchon and Karen M. Warkentin found that the yellow tree frog chooses to lay its eggs in water or on plants overhanging water depending on the amount of shade. In shaded ponds, the frogs laid eggs on leaves above the water, while in unshaded ponds the frogs laid most of their eggs in the water.
The researchers believe the behavior allows the frogs to minimize losses to either aquatic predators or desiccation in the hot tropical sunlight.
Touchon and Warkentin say the behavior may be found in other species as well. They suggest that the finding could shed light on the evolution of terrestrial reproduction.
The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, Boston University, the Smithsonian Institution and The Animal Behavior Society and supported by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Justin C. Touchon and Karen M. Warkentin (2008). Reproductive Mode Plasticity: Aquatic and Terrestrial Oviposition in a Treefrog. PNAS for the week of May 19, 2008