Diet and Reproductive Phenology in a Recently Established Population of Invasive Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis)

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WARC researchers are exploring relationships between body size, time of year, sex, and reproductive development to better understand the reproductive phenology of the New Orleans population of Cuban treefrogs compared to Florida populations.

Cuban Treefrog

Cuban Treefrog found during survey in New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Brad M. Glorioso)

The Science Issue and Relevance: Cuban treefrogs are native to Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands, but have been established as an invasive species in Florida for decades. In 2017, we documented the first known established population in the United States outside of Florida in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after, we discovered a second population in nearby St. Rose, Louisiana. Cuban treefrogs have been recorded preying upon native animals including invertebrates, frogs, snakes, and mammals. Lower abundances of native treefrogs have been observed in areas colonized by Cuban treefrogs, which may be because of a much greater fecundity of Cuban treefrogs, as well as competition for shared resources such as refugia and prey. With the recent establishment of Cuban treefrogs outside of Florida, comparative life history data such as diet composition and reproductive development does not exist. This information is critical to better understand the impacts that this invasive species will have on ecosystems in newly invaded areas as Cuban treefrogs continue to expand their range.

 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: Since the discovery of the established populations in New Orleans and St. Rose, all individuals captured have been humanely euthanized and preserved for later dissection. In 2018, we began dissecting these individuals to gather information on their life history. We are examining the complete gastrointestinal tract to determine what prey items are being consumed and at what frequency. We are also exploring relationships between body size, time of year, sex, and reproductive development to better understand the reproductive phenology of the New Orleans population compared to Florida populations.

Dissected gravid female Cuban treefrog

Dissected gravid female Cuban treefrog from New Orleans, Louisiana (Photo by Brittany R. Maldonado)

 

Future Steps: We plan to continue Cuban treefrog dissections in order to increase our understanding of the effects of seasonality on diet, reproductive phenology, and the effect of reproductive condition on body state.