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Abandoned frog eggs can hatch early

Embryos react to dereliction of parental care

7:05pm, April 29, 2014

STANDARDS OF CARE  A clutch of Fleischmann’s glass frog eggs, nicely plumped up with water, depends entirely on dad (shown) to avoid drying out — and will react if he quits on the eggs.

If deadbeat dads among frogs shirk their parental duties, neglected egg clutches can respond by hatching early.

Eggs laid on the undersides of leaves by the glass frogs Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni depend entirely on fathers for care. And, says Jesse Delia of Boston University, “some are just bad dads.”

Males keep the eggs hydrated by gradually absorbing water from a wet spot and then releasing it over the course of about 40 minutes to an egg clutch. A diligent dad may make five or six water trips a night. But he also has to fight off rival males encroaching on his territory and court the mothers of his next egg batches.

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