Condensation onto the Skin as a Means for Water Gain by Tree Frogs in Tropical Australia

Christopher R. Tracy, Nathalie Laurence, Keith A. Christian

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    Abstract

    Green tree frogs, Litoria caerulea, in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia remain active during the dry season with apparently no available water and temperatures that approach their lower critical temperature. We hypothesized that this surprising activity might be because frogs that are cooled during nighttime activity gain water from condensation by returning to a warm, humid tree hollow. We measured the mass gained when a cool frog moved into either a natural or an artificial hollow. In both hollows, water condensed on cool L. caerulea, resulting in water gains of up to 0.93% of body mass. We estimated that the water gained was more than the water that would be lost to evaporation during activity. The use of condensation as a means for water gain may be a significant source of water uptake for species like L. caerulea that occur in areas where free water is unavailable over extended periods.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)553-558
    Number of pages6
    JournalAmerican Naturalist
    Volume178
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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