Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Frogs, ecotourism, and litter

After a day of monsoonal rains the hylid fog Trachycephalus typhonius move to a breeding pond, males start to call, and soon the noise becomes overpowering. Just off the Northside Road in Tobago one of the most spectacular auditory displays in the amphibian world, and in all of nature, could be seen and heard. On June 3rd, we found a chorus than consisted of hundreds of individuals. Males pushed and chased other males away when they came too close. Females were picking males to amplex with, probably based on the qualities of the male's call, but the position of the male within the chorus. An important choice that will influence the success of her genes in the next generation. Satellite males were frequently standing by pairs in amplexus, and males were frequently challenging each other. Other herps nearby included the rattle-voice treefrog, Hypsiboas crepitans and the tungara frog, Eupemphix pustulosus, as well as the slug-eating snake, Sibon nebulata, and the cat-eyed snake, Leptodiera annulata.

Male Trchycephalus chasing way a competitor, note blue fabric at bottom left. JCM
The Trachycephalus chorus is one of those spectacular events that everyone appreciates when they see it. However, this particular chorus was marred by the fact that the breeding pond was full of bottles, cans, plastic containers and styrofoam trays. Trinidad and Tobago could develop an ecotourism industry around the herpetofauana as they have for birds - chorusing Trachycephalus would be a high interest event that would draw people from all over the world. People who would be staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, and paying tour guides. But, the trash problem needs to be solved first.

Calling male Trachycephalus amid debri. JCM

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