Wildlife cameras reveal high resolution activity patterns in threatened Crawfish Frogs (Lithobates areolatus)

Rochelle M. Stiles, Tim R. Halliday, Nathan J. Engbrecht, Jonathan W. Swan, Michael J. Lannoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Crawfish Frogs (Lithobates areolatus) are obligate crayfish burrow dwellers with small home ranges (0.05 m2) and strong philopatry. Using wildlife cameras, we monitored the behavior of adults and juveniles at a high-resolution time scale (down to 5-min intervals) around-the-clock and across years, from 2009–2013 at Hillenbrand Fish and Wildlife Area-West in Greene County, Indiana, USA. We found that Crawfish Frogs demonstrated a consistent pattern of seasonal activity. Peaks of highest activity occurred in May and September when frogs were active around-the-clock (circumdiel). Early spring and late fall lulls were due to frogs being predominately diurnal; the summer plateau was due to frogs being predominately nocturnal. Individual frogs were strictly diurnal or strictly nocturnal depending on the season. We assessed the activity of these frogs in relation to environmental variables, including ambient temperature, vapor pressure gradient between the atmosphere and frog skin (a measure of evaporative water loss in frogs), and precipitation. Activity was best explained by daily temperature and vapor pressure gradient. Our results suggest that Crawfish Frogs will alter their activity patterns in response to changing environmental conditions, such as temperature and vapor pressure gradient. Although we examined changes across seasons, this behavioral plasticity may also provide them with resilience to changes associated with climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalHerpetological Conservation and Biology
Volume12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Circumdiel
  • Crawfish Frogs
  • Diurnal
  • Lithobates areolatus
  • Nocturnal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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