Males pirate and fertilize egg clutches
One of Europes most common backyard frogs has been keeping a secret that, despite centuries of study and thousands of published papers, has only now been discovered in ponds in the Pyrenees. The European common frog, Rana temporaria, has long been thought to have a straightforward breeding strategy -- one lucky male grabs the female and fertilizes her eggs as soon as she releases them into the water. End of story.
But thats not the end of the story, according to Spanish researcher David R. Vieites, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. In high-altitude ponds in the Pyrenees, on the border between Spain and France, so many males are vying for fatherhood that they pirate the egg clutches after theyre laid. Grasping them as they would a female, they release sperm in the floating clutches, often successfully fertilizing the eggs left unfertilized after the initial encounter. In one pond studied, 84 percent of all clutches had been fertilized by more than one male.
Robert Sanders | EurekAlert!
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