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Posts Tagged ‘amplexus’

mobscene

This weekend, Birdgirl and I made a trip back to the old homestead in the Toronto area. Friday night was mild, and Birdgirl set up her mothing sheets. While out checking the sheets, it was apparent that the warm weather was prompting the toads in the area to move to breeding ponds. On Saturday, it was warm and sunny and the trills of male toads calling from the vernal pool announced that the breeding season for the Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus) was moving into high gear. Birdgirl and I waded through the mud to check out the pond and were able to see numerous toads intent on attracting a mate. Males generally arrive at the breeding site before females, and we only saw one female. She was the object of a lot of male attention! The photo above shows the competition amongst her suitors. The males are noticeably smaller than the female. The tan-coloured male held on tenaciously and eventually came away the winner.

couple

Toads prefer to breed in shallow, temporary pools. During amplexus the male grasps the female’s body from above and can fertilize the female’s eggs externally as they are laid. Toad eggs are laid in two gelatinous strings and a female may lay from 2000 to over 20,000 eggs. The small blackish tadpoles hatch in 2 to 14 days, depending on water temperature. They will eat algae and planktonic organisms and soft vegetation as they grow. Tadpoles transform into tiny toadlets in 6 to 10 weeks. Only a few will survive the two to three years it takes to reach sexual maturity.

The male toad’s song is easy to recognize, a high-pitched extended trill that may last over 30 seconds. Pictured below is a trilling male. You can listen to the call at the Adopt-A-Pond site. Next weekend, May 2nd and 3rd, is the 10th Annual Spring Toad Festival at the Toronto Zoo in the America‚Äôs Wetlands. Also, April 28th, 2009 is the 1st Annual ‘Save The Frogs Day

singing

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frog

When walking through the woods and along wet areas in the back field, I disturbed a few Northern Leopard frogs (Rana pipiens), who leaped away at my approach. One lingered long enough to have his photograph taken. A few Leopard voices were just beginning to join the chorus of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). The Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), singing loudly just a week ago, were now quieter.

Leopard frogs usually overwinter in permanent waters, sitting on the bottom, tucked under the edge of logs or concealed beneath a layer of bottom silt. They move to shallower water for breeding in April or early May. The male’s advertisement call is described as snore-like, or like wet hands rubbing a balloon, followed by a series of chuckles. Amplexus, in which the male grasps the female’s body from above with his forelegs, allows him to fertilize the eggs externally as they are laid. Amplexus usually occurs in the evening. (Check out the great photos of breeding Wood frogs at The Marvelous in Nature.) An amplexed pair will often move to an area where other pairs have already deposited eggs to leave their own eggs. A female lays between 300 and 6,000 eggs in large masses. The eggs are usually attached to submerged debris, twigs or stems. Leopard eggs are black above and white below. Eggs hatch in one to three weeks, depending on water temperature and the tadpoles are ready to transform in two to three months. The little froglets reach mature size in one to three years and may live up to nine years, although few survive this long. In summer, Leopard frogs disperse away from water into meadows or other grassy places, where they absorb moisture from dew or damp soil through their skin.

The Adopt-a-Pond site had a great feature that offers information about frogs and allows you to listen to the songs of various frog species. Hop on over and check it out! (Sorry.) You can also learn about Frog Watch and the Ontario Turtle Tally.

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