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Winners Gallery | Science/Natural History Picture Story | Second Place
Second Place
Christian Ziegler National Geographic
"Its a Frogs Life "

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"Careful look" Close up of specialized eye lid which allows frog to see without giving out its camouflage cover, La Selva, Costa Rica.

Not only is the Red-eyed tree frog an icon for biodiversity and beauty of tropical rainforests it has also an interesting breeding behavior recently revealed. Home to the canopies of lowland rainforests between Mexico and Panama, this attractive species only comes down to the forest floor for mating. In rainy nights, males gather around ponds and pools in the rainforest and call to attract females. A female then glues egg clutches under leaves that overhang the pond and the embryos develop to tadpoles outside the water. This method is to avoid predators in the water such as dragonfly larvae or fish who often eat the immobile eggs of other frogs. However, there is danger also outside the water, especially in form of snakes and certain species of wasps who like to dine on eggs of the red-eyed tree frog. Scientists recently discovered a complex and fascinating anti predator response of the young embryos: if attacked by a predator, they can hatch within seconds and escape the danger. This response is even specific to the species of predator: a snake provokes the whole clutch to go, a wasp only the immediate neighbors. The specificy of this behavior has been shown in vibration playback experiments. Images of this photo essay portrait all aspects of natural history of the adult frogs such as feeding, mating, their predators and habitat as well as an elaborate documentation of the embryos behavior and the research on it.



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