LU scholar discovers novel reproductive behaviour in native frog species
Issue No. 112 Mar 2021
The Science Unit has reported a novel form of reproductive behaviour observed in a native frog species, Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad (Leptobrachella laui). Unconventionally, the female frog positions herself on top of the male, which is a reverse of the more usual mating arrangement.
Field surveys were conducted between 2010 and 2017 in Hong Kong to observe interactions between male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads. The research team carried either digital still cameras or video cameras to document reproductive behaviour during field surveys, as well as taking male and female Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads back to the laboratory to videotape them.
Prof Sung believes that Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads adopt an alternative reproductive behaviour because places to lay their eggs are rare. A male toad finds and guards an ideal egg-laying location such as a rock crevice and carries female there. This may confer reproductive efficiency as they can stay away from predatory risks and deposit eggs somewhere safe to develop, and bringing a mate to their territory increases their reproductive success. Besides Lau’s Leaf Litter Toads, other frog species also exhibit territory establishment and protection behaviours.
“The discovery of this new mating behaviour demonstrates the variety of natural wonders even in a small city like Hong Kong. Through keen observation and persistent hard work, we can begin to understand more about nature. This gives us the ability to conserve the amazing wildlife in Hong Kong,” said Prof Sung.
This interesting discovery has been published in the latest issue of the international academic journal Ecosphere.
Please click the link below to browse the video:
Lau’s Leaf Litter Toad