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Co-occurrence of invasive Cuban Treefrogs and native treefrogs in PVC pipe refugia

November 1, 2013

The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) was first introduced to Florida at Key West. Since this introduction, Cuban Treefrogs have spread to Miami and are now established throughout most of peninsular Florida. Cuban Treefrogs can become very abundant in areas they colonize. Several reasons contribute to their success, including a generalist diet, high fecundity and the ability to reproduce year-round, and use of disturbed or human-modified habitats. Scientists and managers are concerned that Cuban Treefrogs may contribute to the decline of native treefrogs. Cuban Treefrogs may exclude native treefrogs through both competition and predation. Because the evidence from our study and others suggests that Green and Squirrel Treefrogs do not alter their behavior to avoid Cuban Treefrogs, there is cause for concern that sampling with PVC pipes may increase the vulnerability of the native species to predation. This possibility needs further research, including whether other species of native treefrogs sympatric to where Cuban Treefrogs have invaded are also naïve to the possible threat posed by these frogs, and also if native treefrogs eventually learn to avoid Cuban Treefrogs.