Tag Archives: Amphibians

Sexual rivalry may drive frog reproductive behaviors

It may be hard to imagine competing over who gets to kiss a frog, but when it comes to mating, a new study concludes that some frogs have moved out of the pond onto land to make it easier for the male in the pair to give sexual rivals the slip. Biologists have long thought […]

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Deadly fungus threatens African frogs

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Misty mountains, glistening forests and blue-green lakes make Cameroon, the wettest part of Africa, a tropical wonderland for amphibians. The country holds more than half the species living on the continent, including dozens of endemic frogs — an animal that has been under attack across the world by the pervasive chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Africa […]

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Tunnel through the head: Internally coupled ears enable directional hearing in animals

Humans use the time delay between the arrival of a sound wave at each ear to discern the direction of the source. In frogs, lizards and birds the distance between the ears is too small. However, they have a cavity connecting the eardrums, in which internal and external sound waves are superimposed. Using a universal […]

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Brazilian torrent frogs communicate using sophisticated audio, visual signals

Brazilian torrent frogs may use sophisticated audio and visual signals to communicate, including inflating vocal sacs, squealing, and arm waving, according to a study published January 13, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Fábio P. de Sá, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil, and colleagues. Frog communication plays a role in species recognition and recognition […]

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Invasive amphibian fungus could threaten U.S. salamander populations

A deadly fungus causing population crashes in wild European salamanders could emerge in the United States and threaten already declining amphibians, according to a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. The Department of the Interior is working proactively to protect the nation’s amphibians. The USG report released today highlights cooperative research and management […]

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Save the salamanders

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is an emerging fungal pathogen that has caused recent die-offs of salamanders in Europe. Laboratory experiments have shown that it can kill some North American species as well, confirming a serious threat to salamander populations on the continent. A Pearl (a short essay) published on December 10th in PLOS Pathogens summarizes what […]

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Land use may weaken amphibians’ capacity to fight infection, disease

Human-made changes to the environment may be damaging the immune systems of a species of frog whose populations have drastically declined since the 1970s, according to a new study by researchers at Case Western Reserve University and the Holden Arboretum. “These Blanchard’s cricket frogs have nearly gone extinct in their northern range, so we’re almost […]

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Wild toads saved from killer fungal disease

After a six-year effort, biologists say they have for the first time managed to rid a wild toad species of a lethal fungal disease that threatens amphibians around the world. Midwife toads on the Spanish island of Mallorca are now free of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, says Jaime Bosch, an evolutionary biologist at Spain’s […]

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Estrogen, shrubbery, and the sex ratio of suburban frogs

A new Yale study shows that estrogen in suburban yards is changing the ratio of male and female green frogs at nearby ponds. Higher levels of estrogen in areas where there are shrubs, vegetable gardens, and manicured lawns are disrupting frogs’ endocrine systems, according to the study. That, in turn, is driving up the number […]

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Vestibular organ: Signal replicas make a flexible sensor

When a jogger sets out on her or his evening run, the active movements of the arms and legs are accompanied by involuntary changes in the position of the head relative to the rest of the body. Yet the jogger does not experience feelings of dizziness like those induced in the passive riders of a […]

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Climate change could leave Pacific Northwest amphibians high and dry

Far above the wildfires raging in Washington’s forests, a less noticeable consequence of this dry year is taking place in mountain ponds. The minimal snowpack and long summer drought that have left the Pacific Northwest lowlands parched also affect the region’s amphibians due to loss of mountain pond habitat. According to a new paper published […]

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Newly identified tadpole disease found across the globe

Scientists have found that a newly identified and highly infectious tadpole disease is found in a diverse range of frog populations across the world. The discovery sheds new light on some of the threats facing fragile frog populations, which are in decline worldwide. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences […]

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Frogs mount speedy defence against pesticide threat

Several species of frogs can quickly switch on genetic resistance to a group of commonly used pesticides. In one case, wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) were able to deploy such defences in just one generation after exposure to contaminated environments, scientists reported last week at a conference of the Ecological Society of America in Baltimore, Maryland. […]

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Urgent action needed to protect salamanders from deadly fungus, scientists warn

A deadly fungus identified in 2013 could devastate native salamander populations in North America unless U.S. officials make an immediate effort to halt salamander importation, according to an urgent new report published today in the journal Science. San Francisco State University biologist Vance Vredenburg, his graduate student Tiffany Yap and their colleagues at the University […]

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Animals can adapt to increasingly frequent cold snaps

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As worldwide temperatures rise and the earth sees extreme weather conditions in both summer and winter, a team of researchers with the University of Florida and Kansas State University have found that that there is potential for insects – and possibly other animals – to acclimate and rapidly evolve in the face of this current […]

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Frog uses different strategies to escape ground, air predators

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Frogs may flee from a ground predator and move towards an aerial predator, undercutting the flight path, according to a study using model predators published April 15, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Matthew Bulbert from Macquarie University, Australia and colleagues. Escape from a predator is often the last line of defense for […]

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* Deadly frog fungus dates back to 1880s, studies find

A pair of studies show that the deadly fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, responsible for the extinction of more than 200 amphibian species worldwide, has coexisted harmlessly with animals in Illinois and Korea for more than a century. The research will help biologists better understand the disease caused by Bd, chytridiomycosis, and the conditions under which it […]

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Amphibian chytrid fungus reaches Madagascar

The chytrid fungus, which is fatal to amphibians, has been detected in Madagascar for the first time. This means that the chytridiomycosis pandemic, which has been largely responsible for the decimation of the salamander, frog and toad populations in the USA, Central America and Australia, has now reached a biodiversity hotspot. The island in the […]

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Size matters in the battle to adapt to diverse environments, avoid extinction

A new University of Toronto study may force scientists to rethink what is behind the mass extinction of amphibians occurring worldwide in the face of climate change, disease and habitat loss. The old cliché “size matters” is in fact the gist of the findings by graduate student Stephen De Lisle and Professor Locke Rowe of […]

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* Researchers reveal how hearing evolved

Lungfish and salamanders can hear, despite not having an outer ear or tympanic middle ear. These early terrestrial vertebrates were probably also able to hear 300 million years ago, as shown in a new study by Danish researchers. Lungfish and salamander ears are good models for different stages of ear development in these early terrestrial […]

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Fungus from Asia threatens European salamanders

North American salamanders and newts are safe for now, but epidemic could spread through pet trade. The North American eastern newt (Nothophthalmus viridescens) could be at risk from an imported fungus. In 2010, a fungus started killing massive numbers of fire salamanders in the Netherlands. Biologists have now discovered that the disease comes from Asia […]

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First amphibious ichthyosaur discovered, filling evolutionary gap

Fossil remains show the first amphibious ichthyosaur found in China by a team led by a UC Davis scientist. Its amphibious characteristics include large flippers and flexible wrists, essential for crawling on the ground. The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China by a team led by researchers at the University […]

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Amphibian communities collapse in wake of viral outbreak

Two closely related viruses that have been introduced to northern Spain in recent years have already led to the collapse of three different species of amphibian — the common midwife toad, the common toad, and the alpine newt — in the protected area of Picos de Europa (literally “Peaks of Europe”) National Park. In all, […]

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New poison dart frog species discovered in Donoso, Panama

A bright orange poison dart frog with a unique call was discovered in Donoso, Panama, and described by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí in Panama, and the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. In the species description published this week in Zootaxa, it was named Andinobates geminisae […]

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How amphibians crossed continents: DNA helps piece together 300-million-year journey

There are more than 7,000 known species of amphibians that can be found in nearly every type of ecosystem on six continents. But there have been few attempts to understand exactly when and how frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians have moved across the planet throughout time. Armed with DNA sequence data, Alex Pyron, an assistant […]

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A cure for the plague of frogs?

One of the worst scourges of frogs and their kin is Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), a deadly fungus that infects nearly half of amphibian species, eats away their skin, and causes heart attacks. Now, a study shows that one kind of frog can learn to avoid the widespread fungus and that two species become resistant with […]

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Urban frogs use drains as mating megaphones

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A tiny tree frog seems to be using city drains to amplify its serenades to attract females. In research published in the Journal of Zoology, researchers found that the Mientien tree frog native to Taiwan congregates in roadside storm drains during the mating season. Audio recordings revealed that the mating songs of the frogs inside […]

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Toxic toads threaten ‘ecological disaster’ for Madagascar

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The unique wildlife of Madagascar is facing an invasion of toxic toads that could devastate the island’s native species. Snakes feeding on the toads are especially at risk of poisoning, as are a host of other animals unique to the island — such as lemurs and endemic birds — and the species could cause harm […]

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* Potential cure for captive amphibians with chytrid fungus

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Researchers at Vanderbilt University have identified an alternative to a sometimes toxic therapy that protects frogs in zoos from a deadly fungal infection that has been destroying the amphibian populations worldwide. Their research is published ahead of print in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, has been decimating frogs all over the world. […]

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Bats use water ripples to hunt frogs

As the male túngara frog serenades female frogs from a pond, he creates watery ripples that make him easier to target by rivals and predators such as bats, according to researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Leiden University and Salisbury University. A túngara frog will stop calling […]

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