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Amphibians at the forest flor....

Peru Rainforest Amazon Pachitea Panguana Species Diversity : Amphibien der Bodenzone

Upon taking a walk through the vegetation on the forest floor, well-camouflaged amphibians of every type are taken by surprise. These include the pipe frog of the genus Eleutheradoctyus, which has a very unusual breeding habit. All year round they can be seen far away from still or running water. They can afford to do so, since they have made themselves independent of water through their evolution. While most frogs spawn in water, in which they go through the metamorphosis of their tadpole stages, these frogs lay their few, relatively large and yolk-rich eggs on land — usually in the brush. Young frogs emerge from the eggs, thus allowing this particular frog to conquer a niche in nature that had been left open by other amphibians.

The little frog (Edalorhina perezi) has a call like a canary. It looks a bit like a piece of bark covered in moss and is usually discovered only when it flees. This frog also has a peculiar breeding habit. In the upper Amazon basin the dry season can be so dramatic that several days, or even several weeks can pass without rainfall. Many streams don't hold any water, and it is difficult for a frog searching for a place to breed to find an appropriately wet place. There are mini ponds in shady places were the sunshine doesn't get through to the ground, often the inside of an upside down piece of bark that still holds some water. These small bits of water dry up on days without precipitation too, but the special breeding habits of this frog prevent their eggs from drying out. While mating the male rotates his hind legs in a circular motion, taking oviduct secretions from the female and creating a table-tennis sized ball of foam into which 30 eggs are integrated. The outer surface of the ball hardens within seconds so that a capsule is created in which the eggs have the necessary moisture to develop. The capsule dissolves with the next rain and the larvae that have hatched reach water.

Microhylid frogs (Microhylidae) of the genus Ctenophryne live hidden - we don't know much more than that yet. They live so well hidden that a specimen has never been found during the dry season. Even during the rainy season they are only to be seen for 36 hours in a year. Together with other species of frogs they hold a mass concert at temporary pools of water that is deafening. The pair up, deposit their eggs in the water and disappear for the rest of the year, to be seen again in the next rainy season again for only 36 hours.

A special group of frogs are the so-called poison arrow frogs (Dendrobatidae). They are special in several ways. They are all active during the day except for one type, which is unusual for frogs. Their conspicuous colors are another specialty, as though they wanted to capture the world's attention. This is normally the case for those animals that defend themselves, which is most certainly the case for these little frogs. Their skin contains poisonous substances called skin toxins. An enemy that had had bad experiences with these toxins in the past would remember the conspicuous colors and leave them alone in the future. Deterrent poisonous bodily substances are also found in many of the insects here on the ground.

Text und Fotos © Andreas Schlüter 2003-2004