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Urban tree frogs use drains in ingenious way

Tree Frogs In Taiwan Use Drains As Mating Call Megaphones

Looks like a certain type of tiny tree frog in Taiwan has figured a pretty unique way to attract potential female suitors.

Discovery News reports, according to new research, a specific species of tree frog is using concrete city storm drains to make its mating calls bigger and louder, kind of like a megaphone. Talk about street smart.

A team of researchers from the National Taiwan University in Taipei found that the mating songs of the frogs that sang from inside the storm drains were significantly louder and longer than those who made their calls next to the drains. (Via Journal of Zoology)

A biologist at the University of Minnesota told Nature, "This is perhaps the first study to show that an animal preferentially uses human-made structures to potentially enhance the sounds of its vocal communication signals. These males could be taking advantage of the enhanced acoustics in drainage ditches to outdo their competition."

The researchers say they first noticed the frogs' smart new method while doing field research in Taiwan.

They noticed the frogs went into the concrete drains on purpose before belting it out and, as Science World Report points out, even located spots in the structures that provided the best sound quality and duration.

The study's lead author told LiveScience, "Concrete drains are miniature canyons, but are not analogous to anything in ... tree frog natural habitats. Therefore, it is interesting to find those frogs preferentially calling in the drains."

Headlines & Global News reports researchers found the calls made from inside the storm drains were at least four decibels louder and 10 percent longer than calls made from outside the drains.

But the researchers can't say for sure whether this method helps the frogs get more attention from the ladies. The study was published Friday in the Journal of Zoology.

Join the discussion

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hark4109 June 06 2014 at 10:18 AM

Why didn't I think of that? Smart Frogs!

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demigoff1 June 06 2014 at 10:45 AM

I love frogs.

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zaticon1 June 07 2014 at 3:18 AM

We had one that lived in the bathroom plumbing. The little guy liked to peek out at us through the overflow spout in the wash basin.

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spydrworks1067 June 07 2014 at 3:30 AM

"But the researchers can't say for sure whether this method helps the frogs get more attention from the ladies. The study was published Friday in the Journal of Zoology"

I think simple logic here can say for sure. If the calls are louder and longer, this means more females are hearing them. OK...so it may or may not get them more attention, but certainly they get attention from more ladies...

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