Bromeliads and Frogs

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When you see a colorful tree frog looking out of the sheltering hollow in a bromeliad's heart, the animal and plant appear made for each other. Preliminary studies suggest that frogs and bromeliads help each other survive and thrive in their tropical habitats. A tank-type bromeliad makes a natural addition to a pet frog's habitat, or to create a school project ecosystem, classroom or home school display.

Significance

The connection between tropical frogs and bromeliads is so strong that species are named for it, including the bromeliad treefrog and the bromeliad rocket frog. Certain bromeliads have a center tank formed by their rosette of leaves. The tanks or bases of leaves become mini ponds in the wet season. The water helps meet the plants' needs in an environment where nutrients and water can be scarce. High in tropical tree canopies, bromeliads get the bright, filtered sunlight they prefer. The water pools attract insect prey for the frog.

Research

Bromeliads used by frogs receive benefits as well. A treefrog improves a bromeliad's nutrient intake. The frog's feces and insect remains increase the plant's nitrogen, according to Brazilian researchers who published their findings in the 2009 issue of "Oecologia." One type of bromeliad treefrog, Bromeliohyla bromeliacia, shelters in bromeliads during the day and the females lay their eggs in water pools at the base of individual leaves, according to the Operation Wallacea website.

Bromeliad Nursery

The bromeliad serves as a nursery for frog eggs and tadpoles. Not all frogs lay their eggs directly in the bromeliad pools. Female strawberry poison dart frogs in Central and South America lay a clutch of six or seven eggs on a leaf on the ground. The male cares for the eggs until they become tadpoles, and then the female carries the tadpoles on her back one at a time up a tree and puts them in a bromeliad pool, according to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park website. Other poison frogs in rainforests, including Oophaga pumilio, carry their tadpoles from the ground to the tree-top bromeliads.

Considerations

A habitat you create for frogs, such as an enclosure with bromeliads, is called a vivarium or terrarium. A male and female frog of the same species might mate and make more frogs. A narrow-spout watering can works well for filling the bromeliad's tank with filtered water or rainwater. Add water slowly if there are eggs or tadpoles in the bromeliad. Spineless bromeliads (Neoregelia) make a good choice for a frog habitat.

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