Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Climate change a likely culprit in coqui frog's altered calls, say UCLA biologists


Changes in the Puerto Rican climate over the past three decades have caused small but significant changes to the coqui frog, the territory's national animal. UCLA biologists have found that not only have male coquis become smaller, but their mating call has also become shorter and higher pitched.

Authored by Peter Narins, UCLA distinguished professor of integrative biology and physiology and of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Sebastiaan Meenderink, a UCLA physics researcher, the study examined 170 male coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) in 1983 and then 116 males in 2006. The study included frogs found at 28 altitudes in Puerto Rico, ranging from about 10 yards above sea level to more than 1,100 yards above sea level.

This is the coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) of Puerto Rico.

Credit: Dante Fenolio

The study, the first to show the effect of temperature change on a species of frogs in the tropics over a period of more two decades, was published online April 9 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and will appear later in the print edition.

"We think the animal adapted to temperature change by becoming smaller, which we believe causes the differences in their calls," said Meenderink, who was previously a postdoctoral scholar in Narins' laboratory. The male's call is significant because it is used to attract females and to defend territory from other males.

Narins, who has studied the coqui for 41 years, said although the change is not very large, it is statistically significant and may well be a sign of difficult years ahead for the animal. The coqui is so beloved in Puerto Rico that it is the subject of songs and children's stories there.

Now, because of climate change, its reproductive success is likely to decrease substantially, the scientists predict.

"If current trends continue unabated, the coqui frog will sound and look quite different before this century is over," said Narins, a faculty member in the UCLA College of Letters and Science.

The scientists found that frogs at comparable altitudes are more than 10 percent smaller in length than they were 23 years earlier. Using data from four weather stations in Puerto Rico, the researchers also learned that the temperatures increased by almost 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit over that time. Although that amount of warming doesn't sound like much, it is meaningful over such a brief period of time. If it continues or worsens in coming decades, it could be very dangerous for the coqui, whose existence dates back more than 11,000 years, and perhaps much longer than that.

According to Narins, some 30 percent of the world's more than 6,300 species of frogs and toads are endangered for a variety of reasons including climate change, chemical contamination of the water supply, destruction of their habitats and exposure to deadly fungi. In addition to their own intrinsic value, many of the species are important because scientists can study them to discover new treatments for disease. That opportunity would be lost if the animals become extinct.

In addition, the changes affecting the coqui could have an adverse effect on Puerto Rico's food chain, because owls, snakes, land crabs and other animals dine on the animal.


The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01DC00222), the UCLA Academic Senate and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (grant NWO-VENI 863.08.003).

Stuart Wolpert | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Climate Coqui Frog Eleutherodactylus UCLA animals species temperature tropics

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular trigger for Cerebral Cavernous Malformation identified
26.11.2015 | EMBO - excellence in life sciences

nachricht Peering into cell structures where neurodiseases emerge
26.11.2015 | University of Delaware

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

How a genetic locus protects adult blood-forming stem cells

26.11.2015 | Life Sciences

Stanford technology makes metal wires on solar cells nearly invisible to light

26.11.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Peering into cell structures where neurodiseases emerge

26.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>