When is it good to be flexible?

November 06, 2012

When is it good to be flexible?

Most frogs in the world lay their eggs in water

Most frogs in the world lay their eggs in water. But some tropical frogs also lay their eggs out of water, protecting them from aquatic predators such as fish and tadpoles, but increasing their risk of drying out. Justin Touchon, post-doctoral fellow at STRI, discovered that climate change in Panama may be altering frogs' course of evolution.

By analyzing rainfall data from the Panama Canal Authority, Touchon discovered that rainfall patterns are changing. “Over the past four decades, rainfall has become more sporadic during the wet season,” said Touchon. “The number of rainy days decreased and the number of gaps between storms increased.”

Eggs of the pantless treefrog, Dendropsophus ebraccatus, are extremely susceptible to drying. As weather patterns changed, the advantage of laying eggs out of water has decreased, not only for this species but potentially for many species. “Pantless treefrogs switch between laying eggs in water or on leaves,” said Touchon. “Being flexible gives them options, and allows them to make decisions that increase the survival of their offspring.”


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