Monday, July 2, 2012

Puerto Rico II: Herptiles!

This is your second "guest lecture" from the tiny mountain town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico (soon to be sister-city of Burlington, Vermont!)

 Sounds of the early evening - the coquís singing. 

Cane Toad - Bufo marinus

Cane Toad - Bufo marinus
Unidentified lizard
Common Coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui)

Common Coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui)

What: The Common Coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is hands-down the national symbol of Puerto Rico. I am serenaded by them every evening from my urban apartment - I can only imagine that their ko-KEE call would be deafening in the forest. I also discovered a large Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) in the small man-made pool outside my house. I am still not abel to identify this Unknown Lizard ("largato" en español), which is one of many I see scurrying about the open areas all day long - I still have yet to actually catch one - they are fast!

Ecological notes: I've learned that the Common Coquí is native to Puerto Rico, but has become something of a nuisance in other tropical environments into which it has been introduced. The Eleutherodactylus genus (name coming from the Greek for "free-toed" - nearly all have unwebbed feet) is the largest genus of vertebrates in the world with about 700 species (but now, as with many re-classification schemes, the genus is being divided into several more distinct sub-genera). The coquí is assuredly a tree frog - hence its webbed feet. The Eleutherodactylus are one of the few frog genera wherein all the frogs go through what is called "direct development," meaning that they skip a tadpole stage, and are born as very very tiny frogs (full size female common coquís are only about 40mm, or 1.5in). The Cane Toad is an exotic species, coming originally from Oceania, and now seen all over the island of Puerto Rico, in addition to the only other toad (which is native), the Puerto Rican Crested Toad. There are about 40 different types of lizards on the island of Puerto Rico, depending on how you count (some people draw distinctions between iguanas and skinks when talking about "lizards").

Where: Once again, all in my backyard right here in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico - in the Central Cordillera mountain range of Puerto Rico. Elevation about 1,600 ft. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh how familiar yet different the sound of that chorus is. The treefrogs are in the height of their song here in Burlington, but only a few toads and green frogs are still singing (at least in the Centennial Woods retention pond). Those amphibians sound so much like wind chimes.