Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Frog Blog – Another Amphibian Species in Shimoni’s Coastal Forest

Last week saw the rainy season begin to creep in. The first few days were fairly tame, with only a few light showers. But towards the end of the week, the dark clouds rolled in off the sea and the true African rains started.

This can make some elements of our forest research slightly more challenging, and some – like our primate community surveys – impossible. Either way, its sodden clothes and wet boots all round.

There are however, some advantages to the rains. Not only does the vegetation, fruits and flowers all spring back into life, but the forest sees an explosion in diversity and abundance of amphibians!

We’ve seen several very cool frogs this week, but the highlight has been what we believe to be a Fornasini’s spiny reed frog (Afrixalus fornasini). It is a beautifully patterned reed frog that is usually associated with ponds where reeds and sedges are growing. It has been found in Kenya southward through eastern and southern Tanzania, including the low slopes of the Usambara, Uluguru and Udzungwa mountains, south to Malawi, Mozambique, and north eastern South Africa.

Another common name for this frog is the greater leaf folding frog, due to a rather clever way the female protects its eggs. About 80 eggs are laid on a reed leaf, starting at the tip, the edges of which are then folded toward one another and glued together, to defend against predators. This species also has skin that contains small amounts of substances called tachykinins, which are responsible for upsetting the heartbeat and serve to detract mammal predators.

It is a beautiful and very cool little frog, and we look forward to finding more and more as the rains continue!