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Image of the Week
Heleophryne purcelli | Purcell's Ghost Frog | Photo © Jack Phillips

Tadpoles, the aquatic larvae of frogs, seem very simple when viewed from above, with large heads and wriggling tails. When viewed from below and up-close on the other hand, it is obvious just how bizarre and alien tadpoles really are. Their small size has limited our understanding of tadpoles as there are practical difficulties to understanding how they interact with their environment and ecosystem. Annibale et al. (2023) argue that, with recent advancements in, and increased access to, slow-motion macro videography, it is now possible to start understanding the alien lives of tadpoles. One way to do this is called “autecology”, the study of individuals via close observation with a goal of understanding an organism wholistically in the contexts of their biotic and abiotic environments. The authors suggest beginning with certain groups of tadpoles, including suctorial, stream-specialists (e.g., see photo of Heleophryne purcelli). Doing so, they argue, will allow us to ask and answer new questions surrounding tadpole evolution and community ecology. The authors also suggest that these methods are not exclusive to tadpoles, but could be more broadly applied across many small, fast-moving animals.

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Total Amphibian Species by Order

221 Caecilians 815 Salamanders 7,646 Frogs