Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Pacific Chorus Frogs

We've had a series of warmer days, and so last night we heard the first-of-this-year evening serenade of Pacific Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris regilla). We have a very small artificial creek and pond, and every year the kids are able to watch (and listen to) the courtship, mating, egg-laying, hatching, and transformation from tadpole to frog in this common western species. (Heck, it's not just the kids--I, too, watch this unfolding drama each year with the fascination of a child!) The first serenade is just another welcome reminder of the changing season and a promise of the new life that comes each Spring.

Taxonomical note: For the sticklers out there, I am aware of a recent proposal to divide this western soecies into at least three separate species (based on new genetic work). Under this proposal, our northwestern frogs would be Pseudacris pacifica (not regilla). I here use the old nomenclature both because I'm not sure whether anyone has officially acted on this proposal (I'm only very loosely connected to the world of herpetological research) and because--when it comes to such debates (and here I avow it unashamedly)--I tend to be in the camp of the "lumpers" and not that of the "splitters." (The frogs that were chorusing last night don't seem to care one way or the other.)

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