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Ecology. 2010 May;91(5):1477-84.

Not just small, wet, and cold: effects of body size and skin resistance on thermoregulation and arboreality of frogs.

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School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory 0909, Australia.


We used simulations from a biophysical model that integrates interlinked exchanges of energy and water between frogs and their environments to address questions about the limits to thermoregulation and about adaptations for arboreality. Body size and cutaneous resistance (Rc) both significantly affected body temperature (Tb) and the time to desiccate to 70% of standard mass (an ecologically relevant metric of desiccation). Cutaneous resistances < 25 s/cm allow basking frogs to elevate their Tb several degrees above ambient, but Rc above 25 had little additional effect on Tb. Small frogs (<10 g) are able to elevate their Tb above ambient while basking, even with small Rc. Large frogs must have greater skin resistances to be able to elevate body temperatures above ambient, yet large frogs take longer to desiccate to 70% of their standard mass. Frogs can avoid rapid desiccation with high Rc, a large body size, or some combination of these traits. Our literature survey indicates that frogs with a combination of Rc and body size that would result in long times to desiccate to 70% of standard mass tend to be arboreal, suggesting that those species may be selectively favored in a niche that often requires frogs to be away from water sources for extended periods of time.

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