Comparative analysis of cutaneous evaporative water loss in frogs demonstrates correlation with ecological habits

J Young, Keith Christian, S Donnellan, Christopher Tracy, David Parry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Most frog species show little resistance to evaporative water loss (EWL), but some arboreal species are known to have very high resistances. We measured EWL and cutaneous resistance to evaporation (Rc) in 25 species of frogs from northern Australia, including 17 species in the family Hylidae, six species in the Myobatrachidae, and one each in the Bufonidae and the Microhylidae. These species display a variety of ecological habits, including aquatic, terrestrial, and arboreal specialisations, with the complete range of habits displayed within just the one hylid genus, Litoria. The 25 species measured in this study have resistances that range from Rc = 0 to 63.1. These include low values indistinguishable from a free water surface to high values typical of "waterproof" anuran species. There was a strong correlation between ecological habit and Rc, even taking phylogenetic relationships into account; arboreal species had the highest resistance, aquatic species tended to have little or no resistance, and terrestrial species tended to have resistance between those of arboreal and aquatic frogs. For one species, Litoria rubella, we found no significant changes in EWL along a 1,500-km aridity gradient. This study represents the strongest evidence to date of a link between ecological habits and cutaneous resistance to water loss among species of frogs. � 2005 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)847-856
    Number of pages10
    JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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