Unfussy Female Poison Frogs Just Go For Closest Male
by Ed Yong
A female strawberry poison frog faces an abundance of choice when it comes time to breed. The forest floor is full of bright red males trying to attract her with their songs, and wrestling with other males to defend their territories. She could pick a suitor based on his size or health. She could weigh up the quality of his territory. She could judge him on the depth, volume or length of his croaking, any of which could indicate how strong he is.
Or she could just mate with the first male she finds.
That, rather anticlimactically, is exactly what happens. For all the effort that males put into attracting a partner, the only factor that seems to matter to the females is who’s nearest. And according to Ivonne Meuche from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, this strategy makes perfect sense for these frogs.
The strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio) has become something of a celebrity among scientists studying frog behaviour. It’s easy to find because of its bright colours and tendency to hop about in the day. And it has lots of sex. On average, a female will only go for 4 to 5 days between partners…
A rich, rolling “churee churee churee” rings out from the lush understory of the woods, then the songster itself flits up to a low branch and sounds out again. This golden and olive warbler with the black mustache spends much of its time on the ground in deep woods, where it nests, but the patient birder can often catch a glimpse of one, especially as males stake out their territories each spring.
The Kentucky Warbler’s characteristic loud song is heard less frequently today, and continued losses of bottomland hardwood forests across the southeastern United States may be the reason why. However, destruction of habitat on its wintering grounds through clearing for agriculture and pasture may pose an even greater threat…
A stunning new species of pit-viper has been discovered in the cloud forest of Honduras. The venomous snake is described in the journal ZooKeys.
The species is named Bothriechis guifarroi in honor of Mario Guifarro of Olancho, a conservationist who was gunned down in 2007 as he was working to set up a reserve for the indigenous Tawahka. A former hunter and gold miner, Guifarro had turned to conservation when he witnessed biologically-rich rainforests of Eastern Honduras being torn down for cattle ranches.
The species is named Bothriechis guifarroi in honor of Mario Guifarro of Olancho, a conservationist who was gunned down in 2007 as he was working to set up a reserve for the indigenous Tawahka. A former hunter and gold miner, Guifarro had turned to conservation when he witnessed biologically-rich rainforests of Eastern Honduras being torn down for cattle ranches…
Archaeologists Unearth New Information on Origins of Maya Civilization
The Maya civilization is well-known for its elaborate temples, sophisticated writing system, and mathematical and astronomical developments, yet the civilization’s origins remain something of a mystery.
A new University of Arizona study in the journal Science challenges the two prevailing theories on how the ancient civilization began, suggesting its origins are more complex than previously thought.
Anthropologists typically fall into one of two competing camps with regard to the origins of Maya civilization. The first camp believes that it developed almost entirely on its own in the jungles of what is now Guatemala and southern Mexico. The second believes that the Maya civilization developed as the result of direct influences from the older Olmec civilization and its center of La Venta…
Fruit bats and bat fruits: the evolution of fruit scent in relation to the foraging behaviour of bats in the New and Old World tropics
by Hodgkison et al.
Frugivory among bats (Chiroptera) has evolved independently in the New and Old World tropics: within the families Phyllostomidae and Pteropodidae, respectively. Bats from both families rely primarily on olfaction for the location of fruits. However, the influence of bats on the evolution of fruit scent is almost completely unknown.
Using the genus Ficus as a model, the aims of this study were to explore the chemical composition of fruit scent in relation to two contrasting seed dispersal syndromes in Panama and Malaysia and to assess the influence of fruit scent on the foraging behaviour of neo- and palaeotropical fruit-eating bats…
…is a unique species of burrowing toad found only in Mexico, parts of southern Texas and Central America. As its common name suggests the Mexican burrowing toad is fossorial and spends most of its time in underground burrows feeding on insects like ants and termites. Like the purple frog the burrowing toad often emerges from its den after long periods of rain and mates. Also like the unrelated purple frog when threatened or calling the Mexican burrowing toad can inflate its body.
Plasticity describes the ability of a species to grow into different shape, size or other attributes depending on the conditions they live in.
Echinometra lucunter was studied in different sites in Barbados, and individuals in Little Bay were quite different from those at Graves End: their bodies were flatter to the ground and more oval (possibly because higher wave action in Little Bay made it important to by hydrodynamically shaped), and their coloring was different (perhaps because they had a different array of algae to feed on).
This species is also pretty widely distributed, mostly in the Caribbean and Atlantic. The plasticity and the wide distribution may be why these critters have cost taxonomists so much work. At least fifteen different species have been discovered and named, only to turn out to be E. lucunter.
Gonatodes is a genus of dwarf geckos that include many different species. Almost every species has a dramatic and unique color variation (in the males mostly). They mostly live in the forests of South America although some have adapted to live in cities and have been taken as pets.
They eat almost any bug that they can swallow. Some species of Gonatodes are becoming critically endangered due to deforestation.
Most of the species have pointed noses and are rather narrow in body size. However Gonatodes Daudini, shown here is the only one with large scales, bright orange irises and the 3 eye shaped patterns displayed by the males.
If you’re lucky, you might spot the Golden-cheeked Warbler on its breeding grounds in central Texas at this time of year. The snazzy-looking adult male is particularly striking, with a golden-yellow eyebrow and cheek-patch, split by a black eye-stripe that joins its black nape and back.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler depends on the bark of the Ashe juniper for nesting material and tends to forage in deciduous oaks. Its ideal habitat consists of mixed juniper-oak woodlands.
Major threats are habitat fragmentation and degradation caused by ranches and housing developments, the effects of global climate change, lack of prescribed fire, which clears the forest understory to provide habitat, and removal of Ashe juniper trees. Habitat fragmentation compounds the impact of additional threats such as cowbird parasitism, overbrowsing by deer, and the spread of oak wilt fungus…
Currently in Houston area, spotted at High Island and outside Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary. Main feature: black sideburns down face, robust body, underparts yellow, yellow eyestripe, olive back and wings. Diet: insects. Wingspan: 18-22 cm, length: 13 cm. Fun Fact: Only knows a single song, and often, competing males will sing in an identical pitch during mating season.