Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Toad tadpoles and the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ effect

20.10.2003


Research at the University of Kent has revealed a remarkable phenomenon among tadpoles of the Mallorcan midwife toad, one of Europe’s most threatened species. The researchers, from the University’s Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, (DICE) have discovered that the toad tadpoles can change shape when they smell snakes swimming nearby. Tadpoles found in pools where there are no snakes tend to be short and fat, whereas tadpoles in pools which attract snakes are long and thin.



Dr Richard Griffiths from DICE calls this the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ effect, and laboratory tests have shown that ‘Hardy’ tadpoles can become ‘Laurel’ tadpoles within a couple of weeks if they are treated with snake chemical cues. The long, streamlined tadpoles also have thicker tail muscles that enable them to swim faster and escape from snakes.

The Mallorcan midwife toad is under threat from snakes originally introduced by the Romans for religious purposes. The toad population is currently restricted to a few mountain gorges in the northern part of the island although toads from the DICE breeding colony are now being successfully reintroduced to Mallorca as part of the conservation programme.


Once the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ effect had been identified by team member Robin Moore, the researchers were anxious to discover whether the captive-bred toads have lost any of their natural ability to respond to snakes through several generations of captive breeding. However, work by Dr Femmie Kraaijeveld-Smit, using microsatellite DNA analyses to test for any inbreeding effects, established that the captive bred toads seem to have retained nearly as much genetic variability as their wild counterparts and so are able to respond to snakes in exactly the same way.

This research has contributed significantly to the overall recovery programme for the Mallorcan midwife toad being developed by a consortium of European partners.

Karen Baxter | alfa

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>