Friday, April 19, 2024

NOTES FROM THE FALLEN TREE: Male Wood Frogs Compete for Love by Loudly “Quacking”

Males of this species have a distinctive early Spring call for mates. Photo by J. Correa-Kruegel

Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus)

On rainy nights in early spring, some of us choose to stand roadside instead of staying cozy in bed. The reason is to help guide frogs and salamanders to successfully cross the road from their winter hibernation to their breeding pools of water. 

One of the animals that we help to cross the road safely is the wood frog. With the telltale mask across their faces, they hop to their breeding pools each spring where they begin their ritual of the males competing for the females’ attention by “quacking” loudly. When they are all together, the quacking can be heard from up to a half mile away. 

Once the female is fertilized, she will lay her eggs in the pool of water that will eventually dry up later in the summer, also known as vernal pools. This benefits the animals because the pools are typically too shallow to support the main predator of the tadpole eggs: fish. 

Wood frog eggs. Photo by J. Correa-Kruegel

However, it does mean that they need to metamorphose from tadpole to frog stage more quickly than other species of frogs. 

It is one of my favorite signs that spring is in the air! 

Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist
Jennifer Correa-Kruegel, Warren County Naturalist

Jennifer has a Masters in Parks and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University. She worked as a Park Naturalist for Hunterdon County Park System from 2003-2006 and then at the NJSOC full-time from 2006 - 2020, starting as the Program Coordinator and evolving to an Environmental Educator. Jen is a New Jersey native and has lived in Warren County with her family since 2004. She is excited to be offering programs to this community she has grown to love.