The most notable examples of mutations in the animal kingdom are frogs, which migrate from small-sized stingy (sometimes-muscular) tadpoles to adults of all sizes and shapes. It can be difficult to determine which species of frogs are associated with which tadpoles from a single presence – but by observing places where known frogs are laying their eggs, we can fill this gap. To study the Paranapiacaba Treefrog for a research project in Brazil, however, this method proved to be complicated, as it became clear that tadpoles were disappearing from their birth pools (so to speak) before they had completed their development. So, where will they go?
The study, published in the journal PLOS 1, was first established where Paranapiacaba Treefrog met and simultaneously laid eggs. Many years later, they were able to conclude that this species always lays eggs in the family of trees, the “leaves” (brooms of water suspended by the leaves) of bromeliad and lays their eggs. Surprisingly, observations of these bromeliad leaf-tanks have never yielded any tadpoles beyond a certain point of development.
“We could see in the leaves of the bromeliad that the tadpoles were always in the early stages of development (up to stage 26),” said study author Dr Leo R. Malagoli told IFLScience in an email. “Bromeliads are always located on or above temporary or permanent streams, there was only one explanation: Tadpoles must end their development in these streams, where they can find more food and space to grow. In fact, tadpoles found in streams are larger than those found in Bromeliads are. Was and was at a more advanced stage of development.”
The next step was to confirm that the large wiggly tadpoles they found in the stream were of the same species as the slightly smaller wiggly tadpoles on the leaves – and sufficiently certain, DNA analysis confirmed that they belonged to the Paranapiacaba Treefrog. The proliferation of frogs in leaf-tanks is not new to science, but these tadpoles have never seen resonance (frogs and toads) before the journey towards full development.
So how does a little tadpoles transfer this epic? Researchers believe heavy rains can help them on their way, by encouraging toadpoles either to jump or by washing them. The more it rains, the more the bromeliad leaves fill up, sending tadpoles out of their safe – but ultimately lacking – nursery pools and large, spacious, edible worlds.
Reproductive technology is a new technique for science and after 11 years of research, it is probably the first discovery of a satisfying world for the team, but Malagoli says they are not finished yet. “There are many secrets that are native to the Atlantic forests of Brazil that this species of tree frog still needs to be researched and uncovered.” “I think one of the interesting things is to explore in more detail the process of transferring tadpoles from bromeliad to streams.”