Student discovers unique reproductive behavior in frog species

International News

HONG KONG (ABC4) – A Lingnan University scholar discovers novel reproductive behavior in a frog species, native to Hong Kong, Sunday.

According to the Science Unit of Lingnan University (LU) in Hong Kong, a unique form of reproductive behavior was observed among Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads on March 14.

This creature is known to be native to the city of Hong Kong.

In a press release, officials say a student has discovered that the female frog positions herself on top of the male, which is a reverse of the more usual mating arrangement.

Which officials deem ‘unconventional’.

Field surveys were conducted between 2010 and 2017 in Hong Kong to observe interactions between male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads,” shares LU. “The research team carried either digital still cameras or video cameras to document reproductive behavior during field surveys, as well as taking male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads back to the laboratory to videotape them.”

Courtesy of LU

According to Sung Yik-hei, the assistant professor of the science unit, frogs and toads use external fertilization; when the female releases her eggs outside her body, the male releases his sperm on the eggs at the same time.

Sung says, in all known forms of mating in frogs and toads, the male mounts the female or stations horizontally himself to align his reproductive organ with the female’s.

However, in Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads, this does not happen. The male gives the female a piggyback ride to a hidden location where they complete reproduction. Sung calls this discovery ‘sex-reversed inguinal amplexus’ and says “This behavior has not been observed in other species of frogs and toads, but the frogs conceal themselves soon after pairing so that it is hard to determine if this is simply a ride on the male’s back or how the eggs are fertilized. In fact, despite the endeavors of local herpetologists, Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad eggs have never been documented before.”

Sung adds: “The discovery of this new mating behaviour demonstrates the variety of natural wonders even in a small city like Hong Kong. Through keen observation and persistent hard work, we can begin to understand more about nature. This gives us the ability to conserve the amazing Hong Kong wildlife.”

This discovery has been published in the latest issue of the international academic journal Ecosphere.

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