Frogs discovered living in elephant dung
June 10, 2009
Three different species of frogs have been discovered living in the dung of the Asian elephant in southeastern Sri Lanka. The discovery—the first time anyone has recorded frogs living in elephant droppings—has widespread conservation implications both for frogs and Asian elephants, which are in decline.
“I found the frogs fortuitously during a field study about seed dispersal by elephants,” Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, a research fellow from the University of Tokyo, told Monagaby.com. “I thought it was an interesting phenomenon and commented it with some colleagues, experts on elephant and amphibian ecology. None of them had heard about such a thing before. Local people in the study area…seemed also unaware of it.”
This led Campos-Arciez on a hunt. He examined 290 elephant dung piles and found six frog individuals in five dung piles, representing three species: the ornate narrow-mouthed frog Microhyla ornata, another narrow-mouthed species Microhyla rubra, and a frog species in the Sphaerotheca genus. …
As Campos-Arciez alludes to, he found more than just frogs taking refuge in the elephant droppings. Although frogs were the only vertebrates, he also found beetles, ants, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions, crickets, spiders, and termites, “suggesting that a dung pile can become a small ecosystem on its own,” Campos-Arciez writes in the paper announcing his discoveries in Biotropica.