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Frogs: the sound of spring

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All this month we have been publishing stories about the arrival of spring here in this area with many images of the flowers blooming and fresh new colours but there is something else happening this week which is also synonymous with the change of seasons – the sounds of the spring.

The air is filled with birds song and over the past two days another deeper and more urgent sound – that of the frogs down in the pond at the bottom of Parco Bruno Buozzi just below Barga Vecchia who are responding to a more primeval urge.

 

Italian Pool frog, Pelophylax bergeri (Günther, 1986)

Sexual differences
Males have nuptial pads on their hands which are greyish in colour. Males can be very green or even yellow during the breeding season being rarely brown. Males have a pair of external vocal sacs. Females are larger then the males but have slimmer limbs.

History and origin
The Italian pool frog was first described by Günther in 1986, the scientific name of this species is Pelophylax bergeri. Pelophylax is from Greek and is composed of two words, the first is ‘mud’ and the second is ‘guardian’ name given because these frogs never move far away from the water and they often stay immobile on the waters edge as if they were guarding the mud. Bergeri because Günther dedicated this species to Berger, Polish herpetologist (the herpetologist that discovered that Pelophylax kl. esculentus was a natural hybrid of Pelophylax ridibundus and Pelophylax lessonae).

Reproduction
The breeding season can last up to 1 to 2 months (starts in March). Reproduction sites are still water holes, in ponds, lakes or in swamps… Males are seen sitting on an algae rock singing at each other as if they are running a singing competition. When a female comes within eye distance of our singing males, the singing stops and the most impatient males immediately swim over to her, they then take the female to an area in the water with many plants, sticks and in general a lot of vegetation. Then there is another competition between the males, but this time there’s a judge, the female. They sing at each other an the one who has the most piercing sound should normally win the females wishes to breed. the winning male will climb onto the females back and hold her behind her front legs, the male wraps his arms around her and sometimes the males thumbs will come into contact. The female will then eject a small clutch of eggs which the male fertilizes on their way out of the female. After a short pause, the same happens again. If they are disturbed they will dive and separate, often swimming in the opposite direction, if the female comes to the surface and can’t see the male she was just with, she will take another male and this procedure will reproduce until the female is empty. – source

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