Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cuban tree frog crisis

On my very first morning back in Florida, I encountered not only sea gulls and a snake, but also a small frog sitting in a bromeliad.

A tree frog in a bromeliad.
My excitement at finding the frog did not last long.  Although there are several tree frog species native to Florida, this frog did not belong to any of them.  It was a Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), a member of an introduced species that is known to outcompete and even to eat native frogs.  Cast in this light, the frog quickly shifted in my view from a welcome resident of the garden to an imposing villain.

A Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) in a bromeliad.
Nevertheless, Cuban tree frogs also eat insects, including some pests.  Thus, they may provide an important service in the garden.  We were left with a dilemma: should we catch and euthanize these introduced frogs (as has been recommended by some), or leave them alone?  We decided that the answer to this question depended on others: What was likely to happen if we did manage to cull the Cuban tree frog population in the garden?  Would any native frogs return?  I read a couple of anecdotes that suggested removing Cuban tree frogs would result in increases in native frogs.  However, would the same happen deep within the invaded range?  Were there any other frogs left in the garden that could benefit from the removal of the Cuban tree frogs?  To be continued...

Explore some more: Invasive Cuban Treefrogs in Florida; The Cuban Treefrog in Florida

No comments:

Post a Comment