Living in the past V

author's hand in shallow pool filled with tadpoles
In case this is a little too eye-bending, this is my own hand dipping into an absolute buttload of tadpoles – we needed a spring image in here at least once. This was from back in 2011 at a local park, and the pond was small, but not that small – the tadpoles had instead followed the flow into an area where they couldn’t easily swim back out again, and so were queuing up a bit. These are likely American toads (Anaxyrus americanus,) and I can tell that by the number of vertebrae in the tails. No, I lie – I’m not even sure they have vertebrae in their tails – but judging from the time of year and the past observations of this pond as a breeding ground for the species, it’s a fairly safe bet.

It’s a lot of tadpoles, but then again, just about everything in the area eats toads, so it works out; species with high retribution rates before adulthood tend to produce a lot of offspring to account for this. Which makes me wonder: do amphibious species with more significant defensive mechanisms, like the poison dart frogs, produce fewer offspring because they have a higher survival rate? Do they have a higher survival rate, or are they too confident in their badass reputations and die instead from being stupid, like taking selfies on cliff edges? Inquiring minds want to know…

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