** The following is a guest post from Wild Lens biologist and filmmaker Adair McNear who spent the summer and fall of 2012 in Thailand studying an endemic species of treefrog. She is currently editing a short film about the project and offers up a teaser on what she has been working on. **
I wanted to share some of the footage collected from our study site and show a bit of the frogs and general biodiversity of the research station (click on the video below to play):
Sakaerat Environmental Research Station (SERS) is a great research base for scientists, both Thai and foreign, with lab space, friendly staff, luxury field amenities (a hot water shower!), and ample, beautiful secondary growth forest. The research station functions mainly as a day and overnight camp for school groups from all over Thailand, ranging in age from about 6 to 18, and sometimes hosting undergraduate and graduate college students. For kids from major metropolitan areas like Bangkok or the nearby city of Korat, this might be their first time in the “wild,” and by the looks of the big smiles on their faces as they get up just after dawn to go birding, or catch a glimpse of our field team braving the pond water in search of frogs as the sun sets, they love the experience.
Our study site consisted of two freshwater ponds; the smaller pond (shown first, in daylight) just steps away from our field house, and the larger pond about 2km away (shown in the timelapse shot). The incredibly large stick insect (a whooping 26cm) was a resident of a tree on the bank of the smaller pond. The Little Spiderhunter, a member of an Old World group of nectar-eating birds similar but unrelated to hummingbirds, would feed daily on the flowers of the banana plant just outside our field house. There were multiple late mornings that his loud, territorial chirps would wake me up, which is not so charming when you’re trying to catch some sleep after having been awake since 2 am and working in the ponds.
I included some clips of male Chiromantis hansanae calling at night. Their high-pitched, single-note “chirp” is barely audible against the cacophony of other frog species and insects calling along the pond’s edges. However, as we spent more time with the frogs we were able to distinguish each species’ call, and just like the female Chiromantis frogs (who do not vocalize) we could tell just by listening if the right crowd was hanging down at the pond on a given night.
The shot of one frog on top of another is a mating pair of Chiromantis in the amplexus posture, where the male is atop the slightly larger female. He will remain with her for hours, sometimes lightly bobbing his head, until the female has selected a suitable leaf or twig to lay her clutchon, which is then externally fertilized by the male. The last frog shown is a female just after she has laid her clutch. The male has already fertilized the egg clutch and has left, while the female is kicking over the mass of eggs with her hind legs in order to hydrate them and also to create a layer of foam and will form a layer of gel over the eggs, protecting them from the elements and aiding in their continued hydration.
- Adair McNear