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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2012 May 15;177(1):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2012.02.007. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Urinary corticosterone metabolite responses to capture and handling in two closely related species of free-living Fijian frogs.

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Environmental Futures Centre, School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Qld 4222, Australia.


Studies of baseline (unstressed) and short-term corticosterone stress responses in free-living amphibians can provide crucial information on the physiological responses of different populations to environmental change. In this study, we compared baseline and urinary corticosterone metabolite responses of free-living adult males and females of two closely related Fijian frogs of the Platymantis genus (Family: Ceratobatrachidae). Fijian ground frogs (Platymantis vitiana) live on the ground while Fijian tree frogs (Platymantis vitiensis) are arboreal. We captured free-living frogs and applied our moderate stress protocol (5 min handling during urine sampling at hourly intervals), with urinary corticosterone metabolite concentrations measured by enzyme-immunoassay. Mean urinary corticosterone metabolite concentrations in male and female Fijian ground frogs increased from 0 to 2 h and continued to increase to peak concentrations 5-6 h after capture. Mean baseline corticosterone concentration was significantly different between sexes (higher in males than females) only for Fijian ground frogs. There was no significant difference between sexes in the integrated corticosterone responses for both species. Mean baseline and urinary corticosterone metabolite responses of Fijian tree frogs were lower than those of Fijian ground frogs. Corticosterone levels increased for 4-5 h in both species and began to decrease again 7 h after initial capture. Corticosterone responses were consistently higher for Fijian ground frogs than Fijian tree frogs. Individuals in both species showed markedly variable corticosterone responses over the 8h duration of the stressor, with some individuals showing low stress responses and others showing high stress responses. The magnitude of the corrected integrated response of the ground frogs was almost twice that of the tree frogs. These differences in baseline and short-term corticosterone stress responses between these two species could be a consequence of ecological differences including micro-habitat, predator interactions and/or competitive interactions with the introduced cane toad (Rhinella marina). Comparisons of corticosterone responses between populations and species provide a valuable tool for measuring the physiological responses of the amphibians to environmental change.

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