Crikey – a frog on the beach
I’m one of the newer members of USC’s coastal and marine team, currently completing my Bachelor Degree in Animal Ecology. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast and I’m grateful that for the past three years I’ve had the opportunity to undertake research on the local coasts and species that surrounded me whilst growing up and which inspired my love for nature. I enjoy being out in the field observing real ecological interactions, but equally like reading published research because every article or book gives me with the opportunity to learn something new and fascinating.
There is a reasonable risk that people will start to talk to you very softly and offer calming platitudes if you were to regal them with tales of your frog research on – wait – sandy beaches bordering the ocean. Rarely are the words ‘frog’ and ‘beach’ uttered in the same sentence. Notwithstanding the rather awkward possibility of psychiatric treatment for what is a perfectly valid amphibian endeavour, a word of correction and clarification is in order here: coastal dunes on wave-beaten ocean beaches are, surprisingly, full of frogs. There are even frogs on sand dunes and some species are known to hop-hop-hop the strandline of beaches in search of tasty insects to eat.
I’m generally interested in frogs (not to be confused with kissing frogs in the somewhat vain hope of instant princely transformations….). Growing up next to the beach I noticed that frogs use parts of sand dunes as breeding areas during summer. This tickled my natural-history curiosity about frogs at the edge of the sea more widely. My first chapter in this new and rather exciting research story is to get a truly global picture which species of frogs occur at the edge of the sea, what microhabitats they use, and what adaptations they have evolved. This should provide a very solid launch pad for my next project, examining how invasions of dunes and beaches by exotic frog species (especially the cane toad) impact the ecological functions and biodiversity of these ecosystems. Please stay tuned – I have much to croak about.