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Rainforest frogs flourish with artificial homes

Buckets imitating mammal-made puddles may boost tadpole survival

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12:00pm, February 6, 2015
Poison frog

MOVING DAY  A male brilliant-thighed poison frog totes his tadpoles to their new home. Rain-filled wallows left behind by peccaries are prized real estate for the frogs.

Build pig puddles in the rainforest and they will come. When scientists created wallows mimicking those left by wild peccaries, a local population of rainforest frogs that mature in puddles grew by about 50 percent, the researchers report in the Jan. 29 Behavioral Ecology.

For conservationists, this population boom indicates that “you have to protect a whole ecosystem and not try to focus on a single threatened species,” says Eva Ringler, a behavioral biologist at the University of Vienna and coauthor of the study.

Ringler and her team monitored a population of brilliant-thighed poison frogs (Allobates femoralis) in French Guiana. The frogs lay eggs in leaf litter. When the eggs hatch, the father carries the tadpoles piggyback-style to pools of standing water. Rain-filled puddles left by peccaries —

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