We have previously shown that ecological habit (e.g., arboreal, terrestrial, amphibious) correlates with thermoregulatory behaviors and water balance physiology among species of hylid frogs in northern Australia. We hypothesized that these frogs would be different with respect to their field hydration states because of the challenges associated with the different ecological habits. There are very few data on the hydration levels that frogs maintain in the field, and the existing data are from disparate species and locations and do not relate hydration state to habit or changes in seasonal water availability. We measured the hydration state of 15 species of frogs from tropical northern Australia to determine the influences of ecological habit and season on the hydration state that these frogs maintain. As predicted, frogs were significantly less hydrated in the dry season than they were in the wet season and showed significantly higher variation among individuals, suggesting that maintaining hydration is more challenging in the dry season. In the wet season, terrestrial species were significantly less hydrated than arboreal or amphibious species. During the dry season, amphibious species that sought refuge in cracking mud after the pond dried were significantly less hydrated than terrestrial or arboreal species. These data suggest that hydration behaviors and voluntary tolerance of dehydration vary with habitat use, even within closely related species in the same family or genus. Terrestrial and arboreal species might be expected to be the most vulnerable to changes in water availability, because they are somewhat removed from water sources, but the physiological characteristics of arboreal frogs that result in significant cutaneous resistance to water loss allow them to reduce the effects of their dehydrating microenvironment.
Tracy, C., Tixier, T., Le NoENe, C., & Christian, K. (2014). Field hydration state varies among tropical frog species with different habitat use. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 87(2), 197-202. https://doi.org/10.1086/674537