Eleutherodactylus planirostris (Cope, 1862)
Walter E. Meshaka Jr.
1. Historical versus Current Distribution. Cuba is the center of distribution for greenhouse frogs (Eleutherodactylus planirostris; Schwartz and Henderson, 1991); they are also found on other islands in the West Indies (Carr and Goin, 1955) and from southern Florida and Key West (Cope, 1875a, 1889; Carr, 1940a; Goin, 1944, 1947a). Their present distribution in the continental United States is throughout peninsular Florida, the Florida Keys, and a few isolated populations in the panhandle (Carr and Goin, 1955; Duellman and Schwartz, 1958; Wilson and Porras, 1983; Lazell, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Greenhouse frogs have also been documented in extreme eastern Louisiana (Schwartz, 1974; Plotkin and Atkinson, 1979; Conant and Collins, 1998), and in isolated counties in both southern Alabama (Baldwin County; Carey, 1982) and southern Georgia (Chatham County; Winn et al., 1999). They have also been introduced in Hawaii on Hawaii Island and Oahu (Kraus et al., 1999; M. Stewart, personal communication). Their natural patterns of dispersal have doubtless been overshadowed by human-mediated dispersal through the potted plant trade (Goin, 1944). Butterfield et al. (1997) have documented the occurrence of these frogs in suitable natural habitats away from human influence.
2. Historical versus Current Abundance. Carr (1940a) notes that greenhouse frogs are locally abundant in Gainesville, Florida, and are the most numerous anuran on Key West. Rapid dispersal through Florida has been a boon to greenhouse frogs; however, data that measure and assess trends in abundance within populations are lacking. Populations of greenhouse frogs are successfully established in Florida, with their distribution continuing to extend northward and encompassing a wide range of mesic and upland habitats (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a; Meshaka et al., 2004).
3. Life History Features.
A. Breeding. Reproduction is terrestrial.
i. Breeding migrations. None known. In the Everglades, calling is heard from April–September. The peak months of calling are May–June (Meshaka et al., 2004). Calling is heard most frequently on wet (2 cm rain), warm (25 °C), humid (96%) nights. In Homestead, Florida, greenhouse frogs are all but silent from mid- November to mid-February, after which time choruses, which sound like soft chirping, are almost nightly events that intensify with rain (Meshaka et al., 2004). Homestead choruses have been heard in ambient temperatures of at least 20 °C. Rain, watering the garden, and sultry days initiate diurnal choruses. In Gainesville, males call from April–September, and breeding occurs from late May to late September with a peak in July (Goin, 1947a). Amplexus is axillary (Goin, 1947). Hatchlings appear in June in Gainesville (Goin, 1947a) and from late May to early June in Key West (Lazell, 1989). ii. Breeding habitat. Breeding occurs under moist cover (Carr, 1940a; Goin, 1947a).
i. Egg deposition sites. Goin (1944) reports an incident of greenhouse frog eggs found in a backyard flowerpot in Jacksonville, Florida. In general, eggs are laid in moist depressions in the earth or in moist debris (Lazell, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).
ii. Clutch size. From 3–26 eggs with an average of 16 (Goin, 1947a; Lazell, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). In Jamaica, the range is 2–22 yolked eggs with an average of 11 (Stewart, 1979).
C. Direct Development. Terrestrial. Larval development occurs within the egg; young hatch as miniature froglets (Lazell, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Development may be accelerated by warmer temperatures, with hatching occurring as early as 13 d post-deposition (Lazell, 1989). Lazell (1989) notes that hatching appears to be most successful with 100% humidity.
i. Brood sites. Eggs are laid on the ground under moist cover (Lazell, 1989), but females are not known to brood (Goin, 1947a).
ii. Parental care. None (Goin, 1947a).
D. Juvenile Habitat. Humid areas that provide cover, such as leaf mold, flower beds, and moist litter (Goin, 1947a; Carr and Goin, 1955).
E. Adult Habitat. Same as juveniles; adults are found in humid habitats that provide cover (Carr, 1940a). Greenhouse frogs are particularly common in gardens, greenhouses, nurseries, and other moist substrates (Goin, 1944; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). These frogs will hide beneath leaf litter, mulch, boards, or stepping stones (Carr, 1940a; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Greenhouse frogs are also found outside of human influence in suitable natural habitats (Butterfield et al., 1997). They are secretive and nocturnal except on warm, overcast, or rainy days (Carr, 1940a; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a).
F. Home Range Size. Unknown.
G. Territories. Unknown.
H. Aestivation/Avoiding Desiccation. Unknown.
I. Seasonal Migrations. None.
J. Torpor (Hibernation). In late March in the southern Everglades of Florida, greenhouse frogs have been found hibernating underneath the loose bark of wild tamarind (Lysiloma sp.), a small tree common in the hammocks (Harper, 1935).
K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions. Greenhouse frogs are found under the same cover objects as eastern narrowmouthed toads (Gastrophryne carolinensis; Carr, 1940a; personal observations) and in the same habitats as many small fossorial and semi-fossorial amphibians and reptiles (Dalrymple, 1988; Conant and Collins, 1998; Meshaka et al., 2000; Meshaka and Layne, 2002, 2005), with which they may or may not compete.
L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity. Sexually mature male greenhouse frogs range in size from 15.0–17.5 mm SVL; females range from 19.5–25.0 mm SVL (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a). Lazell (1989) records a large adult measuring 32 mm. Sexual maturity is reached in 1 yr (Goin, 1947a; Duellman and Schwartz, 1958).
M. Longevity. Unknown.
N. Feeding Behavior. In order of occurrence, greenhouse frogs eat ants, beetles, and roaches, but include other types of small invertebrates (Goin, 1947a; Duellman and Schwartz, 1958; Lazell, 1989). In Jamaica, diet did not include roaches, but animals ate numerous ants, mites, spiders, and longlegs (Stewart, 1979).
O. Predators. In the Everglades, greenhouse frogs are eaten by Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) and ring-necked snakes (Diadophis punctatus; Wilson and Porras, 1983; Meshaka, 1994, 2001; Meshaka et al., 2004).
P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms. Unknown.
Q. Diseases. Unknown.
R. Parasites. None reported in the United States.
Greenhouse frog populations appear to be stable across much of their native range. They have been rapidly expanding their distribution up peninsular Florida and along the Gulf Coast and have been introduced in Hawaii on Hawaii Island and Oahu, where they are considered an invasive species (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a; Kraus et al., 1999; Meshaka et al., 2004; M. Stewart, personal communication). Greenhouse frogs are locally abundant and occur across a wide range of habitats and regions in Florida (Carr, 1940a; Dalrymple, 1988; Lips, 1991; Meshaka et al., 2000). In this connection, greenhouse frogs have the potential to compete for food with lizards such as reef geckos (Sphaerodactylus notatus) and mole skinks (Eumeces egregius), which are already threatened because they are habitat specialists and their habitat is rapidly disappearing.
Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.
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