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First record of heterospecific amplexus behaviour between Pelophylax plancyi (Lataste, 1880) and P. nigromaculatus (Hallowell, 1861) from Nanjing, China

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This publication reports the first documented record of heterospecific amplexus between Pelophylax plancyi and P. nigromaculatus from Nanjing, China. Herpetology Notes, volume 14: 773-774 (2021) (published online on 16 May 2021)
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During mating, adult frogs generally recognise
conspecifics through visual displays, audible calls
or chemical signals (Belanger and Corkum, 2009).
However, communication cues are not always efficient
and mixed-species amplexus are not uncommon
(Haddad et al., 1994). Non-conspecific male and female
amplexus include not only heterospecific amplexus
but also multiple individual amplexus (Oliveira et al.,
2014), amplexus between two males (Theis and Caldart,
2015), amplexus by anurans with caudates (Simović, et
al., 2014), and even amplexus with reptiles (Shin et al.,
2020).
In natural ecosystems, cases of heterospecific
amplexus have been documented in various amphibian
species (Sodré et al., 2014, Vásquez Cruz et al., 2019).
Within the Pelophylax genus, Marsh frogs P. ridibundus
(Pallas, 1771), Pool frogs P. lessonae (Camerano,
1882) and their hybrids the Edible frogs P. esculentus
(Linnaeus, 1758), represents a suitable model to study
hybridisation (Spolsky and Uzzell, 1984). However,
relatively small populations are at risk of losing genetic
information due to introgressive hybridization (Zhang
et al. 2018).
Chinese species of the genus Pelophylax include the
Black-spotted Pond frog, P. nigromaculatus (Hallowell,
1861) and the Gold-striped Pond frog, P. plancyi (Lataste,
1880), two common species that generally share their
breeding habitats in spring (Liu et al., 2010). While
heterospecific amplexus have not been reported yet,
genetic analyses suggest their occurrence as hybrids are
present in large numbers in some populations (Komaki
et al., 2015). Here we present a case of heterospecific
amplexus between P. plancyi and P. nigromaculatus.
On 1 May 2019, around 19:15 h, we observed a
male P. plancyi in axillary amplexus with a female P.
nigromaculatus (Fig. 1) at Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing,
People’s Republic of China (32.0583°N, 118.8194°E).
At this site, air temperature and relative humidity were
30 °C and 76% respectively. The pair was observed
in amplexus for about 15 minutes before they left
towards a nearby rocky pool. We captured both frogs
before they could lay eggs, and we measured their
snout-vent length (SVL) using a digital calliper to the
nearest 0.01mm. The SVL of P. plancyi was 36.50
mm and for P. nigromaculatus it was 62.21 mm. At
the same site, we also observed several P. plancyi in
amplexus. However, we did not observe any amplexus
of P. nigromaculatus despite being within the breeding
season. This heterospecific amplexus has the potential
to result in the hybridization.
Herpetology Notes, volume 14: 773-774 (2021) (published online on 16 May 2021)
First record of heterospecific amplexus behaviour between
Pelophylax plancyi (Lataste, 1880) and P. nigromaculatus
(Hallowell, 1861) from Nanjing, China
Hina Amin1, Kevin R. Messenger1,*, and Amaël Borzée1,*
1 College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry
University, Jiangsu, Nanjing 210037, People’s Republic of
China.
* Corresponding authors. E-mail: kevinrmessenger@gmail.com;
amaelborzee@gmail.com
© 2021 by Herpetology Notes. Open Access by CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.
Figure 1. Heterospecific amplexus between a male Gold-
striped pond frog (Pelophylax plancyi) and a female Black-
spotted pond frog (Pelophylax nigromaculatus) observed at
Xuanwu Lake, Nanjing, China in May 2019 (Photo by Hina
Amin).
Hina Amin et al.
774
Acknowledgments. We are grateful to Dr. Ming-Feng Chuang
for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript
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Accepted by Kanto Nishikawa
... This can lead to unusual amplexus, such as with dead individuals (Bettaso et al., 2008;Müller, 2016), with inanimate objects (Díaz-Ricaurte & Serrano, 2022;Mollov et al., 2010) or more often with individuals of other species-'interspecific amplexus' (e.g. Amin et al., 2021;Luría-Manzano & Vázquez-Córzas, 2011). This behaviour is still poorly understood, but it is likely based on hasty responses to chemical and visual cues and promoted by low densities of female conspecifics and strong intraspecific male competition (Hettyey & Pearman, 2003;Marco & Lizana, 2002). ...
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