Home | Amphibians | Research Update: Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) Calls are Influenced by Social Factors, Concave-Eared Torrent Frogs (Odorrana tormota) Call in the Ultrasonic Range

Research Update: Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) Calls are Influenced by Social Factors, Concave-Eared Torrent Frogs (Odorrana tormota) Call in the Ultrasonic Range

Socially Influenced Mating behavior
Ever wonder how a male frog might draw the attention of a female when he is calling amid hundreds of others? Research published in the August, 2008 “Journal of Comparative Psychology” has revealed that gray treefrogs vary their calls in response to social situations. When alone or in small groups, males utilize the species’ usual call. However, when trying to attract a mate amid large groups, males will vary the rhythm of their calls, in order to stand out from the crowd.

The Only Ultrasonic-Sensitive Frog
Concave-eared torrent frogs have, as one might guess from their name, recessed eardrums. Biologists looking into why this species’ eardrums are not level with the skin, as in most other frogs, discovered that these natives of central China emit and hear ultrasonic mating calls. This is likely because noise from the rushing streams along which they dwell would drown out calls emitted in the lower sound ranges (which are used by most frogs). Until now, only bats, whales and certain insects were thought to utilize ultrasonic calls.

Unusual Ears
And why the recessed eardrums? As stated in an article published in the May, 2008 issue of “Nature”, the torrent frogs eardrums are only 1/30th as thick as the eardrums of other frogs (which are, I imagine, quite thin themselves!) – an adaptation to allow the detection of ultrasonic sound. Their recessed location is thought to confer some protection against injury.

 

You can learn more about the concave-eared torrent frog’s natural history at:
http://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Odorrana&where-species=tormota

Image referenced from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hyla_versicolor.jpg, and taken by LA Dawson

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.

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