Peculiar Pollinators

Fruitarian Frogs Give

Flowers a Jump-star.

On warming evenings near Rio de Janeiro, you might find milk fruit trees covered in brownish-orange frogs. While many frogs eat insects, the tree frog species Xenohula truncata has a taste for the pulp of bulbous fruits and the nectar in the tree's flowers.

As they seek that nectar, the frogs dunk their entire bodies into the plant's flowers, only their butts sticking out.

When they emerge, pollen gets stuck to their heads and backs. Then they hop off, potentially transporting the pollen from their previous stop at the tropical buffet into the next milk fruit flower they encounter.

In other words, the frogs may disperse the plant's seeds and pollinate its flowers - which would be the first time this has been seen in an amphibian.

'' That's completely, completely new, till now, nobody saw them actually doing that, '' said Luis Felipe Toledo, head of the Amphibians Natural History Lab at the State University of Campinas in Brazil and an author of a study suggesting the existence of this ecological relationship between frog and flowering tree.

'' This is a very exciting and intriguing first observation,'' said Ruth Cozien, an expert on plant-animal interactions at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, who was not involved in the study.

She said more observations were needed to confirm pollination, but called the early evidence ''incredible.''  [Sofia Quaglia]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!