Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs

20.09.2017

Especially male poison frogs, are very caring parents.The males piggyback their offspring to distant pools spread around the rainforest where they can feed and develop. A team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna, the University of Vienna and Harvard University now showed that this parental behaviour can be triggered experimentally. When unrelated tadpoles are placed on the backs of adult frogs, male – and even female – “foster parents” make their way to pools in the forest in the same way as if they had picked up the tadpoles themselves. The experiment showed for the first time that an external stimulus can trigger complex behaviours in amphibians. Journal of Experimental Biology.

Parental care is widespread in the animal kingdom. Poison frogs are also known to be dedicated parents. They pick up their tadpoles after they hatch and piggyback them to distant pools spread around the forest.


Poison frogs even transport not there own kin to water pools.

Andrius Pasukonis/Eva Ringler

Until now, the processes that trigger parental care have been mostly studied in birds and mammals. But the exact stimulus that triggers frogs to carry their offspring to the pools remains unstudied.

Researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna, the University of Vienna and Harvard University have now investigated whether adult frogs will only transport tadpoles if they pick up a clutch themselves or if this behaviour could be triggered experimentally.

The team of researchers placed unrelated tadpoles on the backs of different frogs. The study showed that the amphibians are exemplary foster parents and that even females, which under natural conditions only rarely perform the role of “transporter”, assumed their parental duties just like males when tadpoles were placed on their backs.

Piggyback for all, no matter if the “children” were natural or adopted

After the foster tadpoles were placed on the backs of male and female frogs, the adults were fitted with miniature transponders for tracking. “We wanted to know if foster tadpoles were also transported to the pools. The results show that the tadpoles do not have to be picked up, but that contact with the backs of the adult frogs was enough to trigger the transport,” explains Andrius Pašukonis of the University of Vienna, who led the study together with Kristina Beck and Eva Ringler.

“We observed that all tested frogs, both males and females, transported the experimentally placed tadpoles to pools,” says Eva Ringler of the Vetmeduni Vienna’s Messerli Research Institute. Their behaviour was the same as if they had decided to pick up and transport the tadpoles themselves. This shows that the parental care instinct in these frogs can be triggered by placing tadpoles on the backs of the adult animals whether they are related or not. However, the experiment could not yet clearly identify the mechanism that triggers this instinctive behaviour.

Tactile stimuli from the tadpoles could play a predominant role even among frog mothers

“We suspect that tactile stimuli, certain touching or movement patterns by the tadpoles, play a role. These findings are interesting, as they show how one stimulus can trigger such complex behaviour. The adult poison frogs don’t just march off; the touching also stimulates memories of distant pool locations in the forest,” says Pašukonis.

Also interesting was that the female frogs voluntarily carried the foster tadpoles to the pools. “In this species, females naturally transport tadpoles only in rare cases,” explains Ringler. The instinctively triggered behaviour therefore does not appear to be sex-specific.

Among both males and females, the physical presence to the tadpoles placed on their backs was sufficient to make the frogs transport the tadpoles to the pools and so to ensure the survival of unrelated young. The study was the first to show in the wild and among amphibians that such complex behaviour can be triggered by one external stimulus.

Service:
The article “Induced parental care in a poison frog: a tadpole cross-fostering experiment“ by Andrius Pašukonis, Kristina Barbara Beck, Marie-Therese Fischer, Steffen Weinlein, Susanne Stückler und Eva Ringler was published in Journal of Experimental Biology.
http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2017/08/31/jeb.165126

About the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. About 1,300 employees and 2,300 students work on the campus in the north of Vienna which also houses five university clinics and various research sites. Outside of Vienna the university operates Teaching and Research Farms. http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at

Scientific Contact:
Eva Maria Ringler
Messerli Research Institute
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 650 9780208
eva.ringler@vetmeduni.ac.at
and
Andrius Pasukonis
Department of Cognitive Biology
University of Vienna
T +43 1 4277 76101
andrius.pasukonis@univie.ac.at

Released by:
Georg Mair
Science Communication / Corporate Communications
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna)
T +43 1 25077-1165
georg.mair@vetmeduni.ac.at

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformation/press-releases-2017/...

Mag.rer.nat. Georg Mair | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Biology Poison frogs Veterinary Medicine amphibians frogs stimuli stimulus tadpoles

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>