Class Amphibia (Amphibians) in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve
Class Amphibia Characteristics: Amphibians are ectothermic, meaning they do not produce their own heat, but instead rely on external heat sources. As a group, they live in habitats that include terrestrial surfaces, subterranean regions, tree tops, and wetlands. There are approximately 7,000 amphibian species today, with 90% being frogs. The other 10% are salamanders and caecilians.
An amphibian typically hatches from an egg, spends the first part of its life as a larva in an aquatic environment and breathes with gills. Later, it metamorphoses into an 4-legged adult that lives on land and breathes with lungs. Amphibians use their skin as a secondary respiratory organ.
Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Tadpoles eat plants, algae, and other microscopic vegetation. Adult frogs eat insects, snails, spiders, worms and small fish. At all stages of their development, amphibians are prey of larger animals.
Order Family Species Name Common Name Anura Hylidae Hyla cinerea Anura Hylidae Osteopillus sepentrionalis
Hyla cinerea is native to Florida and much of the central to southeastern U.S. These three frogs were photographed in the filter marsh in the open canopy, waiting to capture food. The color of this frog species is usually a shade of green and a frog can change color shade in different lighting and temperature. A white, pale yellow, or cream-colored line runs from the upper lip to the groin. Hyla cinerea have smooth skin and large toe pads. The abdomen is pale yellow to white.
This treefrog is native to Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and the Bahamas. In the 1920s, individuals were accidentally brought to Florida, probably as hitchhikers in cargo containers on ships. They are considered invasive because they harm native ecosystems by eating native frogs and occasionally lizards and small snakes. Their tadpoles compete with native tadpoles for space and food.
The one pictured here was living in a bromeliad.
© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.
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