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Sunday, September 20, 2009

A tree frog constructs a special nest

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A female Indian tree frog taxonomically known as Rhacophorus lateralis makes a purse like nest over water by folding a single leaf around the egg mass after oviposition. This type of specialized skill and parental behavior protects eggs against desiccation in open sunlight. There are two other species of tree frogs that show multiple leaves nesting behavior. These species are R. calcadensis and R. pseudomalabaricus. This unique style of nest building behavior of tree frogs by folding either a single leaf or multiple leaves has been communicated by S.D.Biju, School of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi (India) through his paper published in July 2009 issue of Current Science.

A tree frog (credit wikipedia)

Amphibians like frogs and toads are called as anurans. The word anuran in Greek stands for tail-less animal (an, means tail and –oura, means less). These animals are characterized by numerous types of adaptations suited to aquatic and terrestrial life conditions. Their streamlined bodies, boat shaped head with two membrane-covered bulging eyes at the top of the head, ability to match body colour to the colour of surrounding, absence of external ears, short forelegs and long z-shaped hind legs, slippery warty and permeable skin with mucous- and poison secreting glands, webbed digits etc. are certain adaptations that protect anurans in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Besides these, some anurans have adaptations to climb and rest on trees. Protection of eggs by a cover of foam is one reproductive adaptation of anurans in aquatic habitat. Other reproductive adaptations pertaining to the deposit of eggs have been reported ranging from underground,arboreal foam nest,and tree holes and stream banks.

About 262 anuran species have been reported from India. Out of these one species namely Rhacophorus malabaricus has been reported to construct above ground nest using multiple leaves (http://amphibiaweb.org). R. lateralis is reportedly an Indian frog which was observed in the natural habitat of Kalpetta in Wayanad district of Kerala. The researcher has claimed that leaf folding behavior was the “first report” in the family Rhacophorideae or the Asian anurans. Since R. lateralis is an endangered species,its breeding process is important to be studied in view of its protection and conservation- the paper emphasizes.

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