Science Diary: Frogs – Drought

music; ambience: giant burrowing frog

“One of the reasons that many people want to come and look at Australian frogs is that a lot of Australian frogs occur in places where you wouldn’t expect them to be.”

You think frogs; you think water, right? But Dr. Arthur White, an Australian frog biologist, says that in some arid regions, frogs can live six or seven years without rain. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“So I have on occasions taken people out to some of these desert areas and basically waved my arms across this dry baking plain and said behold, this is frog habitat in Australia, and of course people have scoffed and laughed. And so I’ve had no option but to take the shovel out the back of the car and walk over and probe the ground until I can find the entrance to some of the frog burrows. And we basically start digging. And we dig down to try and extract some of the burrowing frogs. Now these are peculiar animals because they spend most of their life actually in a hibernation state below ground. They have to stay there, they have to live off their body water, their body fat until the rains do come, and that’s to say they could be seven to ten years later, who knows.”

When it finally does rain and surface water becomes available for several weeks, the burrowing frogs emerge from their underground burrows to feed and to breed.

“These frogs are so highly specialized that their tadpoles obviously can’t afford to take weeks or months going through a long gestational period before they finally turn into a frog. They have to do it quickly, and some of the Australian frogs can do it in ten days. They can go from egg to frog in ten days, and then dig their little hole and down the ground and sit for another ten years, before the show starts.”

Arthur White studies frogs in a wide range of habitats, from deserts, to mountain tops. We’ll hear more in future programs.

Please visit our website, pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Science Diary: Frogs - Drought

Frogs and water go hand in hand. But in some arid regions, frogs can survive for years without rain.
Air Date:03/10/2009
Scientist:
Transcript:


music; ambience: giant burrowing frog

“One of the reasons that many people want to come and look at Australian frogs is that a lot of Australian frogs occur in places where you wouldn't expect them to be.”

You think frogs; you think water, right? But Dr. Arthur White, an Australian frog biologist, says that in some arid regions, frogs can live six or seven years without rain. Welcome to Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside.

“So I have on occasions taken people out to some of these desert areas and basically waved my arms across this dry baking plain and said behold, this is frog habitat in Australia, and of course people have scoffed and laughed. And so I've had no option but to take the shovel out the back of the car and walk over and probe the ground until I can find the entrance to some of the frog burrows. And we basically start digging. And we dig down to try and extract some of the burrowing frogs. Now these are peculiar animals because they spend most of their life actually in a hibernation state below ground. They have to stay there, they have to live off their body water, their body fat until the rains do come, and that's to say they could be seven to ten years later, who knows.”

When it finally does rain and surface water becomes available for several weeks, the burrowing frogs emerge from their underground burrows to feed and to breed.

“These frogs are so highly specialized that their tadpoles obviously can't afford to take weeks or months going through a long gestational period before they finally turn into a frog. They have to do it quickly, and some of the Australian frogs can do it in ten days. They can go from egg to frog in ten days, and then dig their little hole and down the ground and sit for another ten years, before the show starts.”

Arthur White studies frogs in a wide range of habitats, from deserts, to mountain tops. We’ll hear more in future programs.

Please visit our website, pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.