Sunday, 19 July 2009

Lunar mating habits - amphibians

a happy couple (from

Big news. Scientists have been spying on frogs, toads and newts and have discovered they mate by full moon. Before anyone starts accusing our small and slimy friends of cross-breeding or adultery, they don't all breed together. Let me word this better: scientists have discovered that by full moon amphibians find each other under moonlight and engage in reproductive practises within their species. No confusion there.

Or as the BBC reports it, "The animals use the lunar cycle to co-ordinate their gatherings, ensuring that enough males and females come together at the same time". And people say the BBC doesn't have a sense of humour.

Rachel Grant, a biologist from the Open University, was in Italy studying salamanders for her PhD a few years ago when she noticed a collection of mating toads. Under full moon. Over the following months she returned to the same spot. Same thing. Near the end of the waxing gibbous and beginning of waning gibbous phases, out came the toads to play.

"We now have evidence of lunar cycles affecting amphibians in widespread locations," says Rachel. "We definitely think that Moon phase has been an overlooked factor in most studies of amphibian reproductive timing."

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