Monday, February 7, 2011

Species Spotlight: Phantasmal Poison frog

One of the things that Edward (one of our volunteers) and I love to do on Sundays is look for frogs throughout the Conservatory, usually while we are trying to round up all 4 Ornate Wood Turtles (Rhinoclemmys) to make sure they get a nice veggie breakfast. One or two of the wood turtles can typically be found basking on the rocks towards the front of the rotunda, but it can be challenging to find all 4!

Here is a juvenile Epipidobates tricolor we found in the Conservatory yesterday. Usually, the juvenile phantasmal poison frogs we find aren't as colorful as this one sitting in Edward's hand. It normally takes these frogs a few months to acquire this dramatic adult coloration—which might signify that the frog is becoming ready to breed.

Can you spot the poison frog in this picture? We have blown it up on the right to help. About 30 frogs were released into the Conservatory in the mid-90's and they are still thriving here today! One typically has to go to the mountains of Ecuador to see these amazing frogs in a natural setting, but in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's Fuqua Conservatory, you can find them foraging, calling, mating, laying eggs, protecting their territory (males can be a little fiesty) and transporting tadpoles (on their backs!).

Epipedobates tricolor leave their eggs on broad leaves until they hatch, at which point one of the parents will collect the emerging tadpoles and transport them to a suitable place for the young to grow. There are 7 ponds throughout the Conservatory rotunda, and each of them are used by these poison frogs for tadpole rearing.