New Frog Species Found In Troubled Indian Habitat

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Over the past 12 years, scientists have discovered 14 new species of “dancing” frogs that attract mates with some unusual kicking behavior.  Due to the frog’s very rapid declines since discovery, scientists are worried that they are becoming very endangered due to climate change. One family of dancing frogs are found only in the Western Ghats of India, a biologically diverse mountain range which has been affected by development, mining and pollution.  The frogs live in streams on hillsides, and the males developed the dancing behavior to attract females that may not be able to hear their croaking over the sound of the flowing water.  An interesting aspect of their population is there can be up to 100 times more males than females in an area, so there is very strong competition for the females.  The male’s kicking can also help push away other males that are looking for mates.

Mating can only occur when stream flow declines enough that water is shallowly flowing over rocks; any more water present will cause the frogs wi be swept away.  If a stream has too little water, the frogs can’t lay their eggs. Monsoon frequency and rainfall are predicted to change with climate change, which will affect the stream flow, and scientists have already seen the frog’s habitat be degraded by plantations and logging.

This link has a video clip of the dancing frog’s dance:

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.