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!
Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
27.04.2017 | Life Sciences
27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences