Amplexus

Amplexus is the nexus between male and female frogs and toads that results in fertilization of eggs. Many mating pairs of Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) were observed in amplexus in a vernal pool located along the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park on 11 March 2016.

The first photo shows a mating pair in amplexus plus another male interloper.

A mating pair of Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) plus another male interloper spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The mating pair is in amplexus.

And action! The following photo — my favorite in the set — shows another mating pair in amplexus plus an aggressive male interloper. Notice the strings of toad eggs in the water.

A mating pair of Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) plus another male interloper spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The mating pair is in amplexus. Notice the long strings of toad eggs in the water.

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice the nictitating membrane covering the eyes of all three toads — a translucent third eyelid that protects the eyes of toads when they are underwater. Looking at the other three photos, can you tell which toads’ eyes are (or were) below water?

The next photo shows a mating pair in amplexus. Notice the long strings of toad eggs in the water.

A mating pair of Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is in amplexus. Notice the long strings of toad eggs in the water.

The last photo shows another mating pair in amplexus.

A mating pair of Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is in amplexus.

Answer Key: Photo 1) The male interloper is under water. Photo 2) All three toads are under water. Photo 3) Both toads are under water. Photo 4) Both toads are above water.

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Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to “Amplexus”

  1. laura lecce Says:

    Hey Walter,
    Nice photos, I was looking back at all the other Toad-ally in love parts, and noticed that the males are almost always smaller than the females. Are they younger do you think? or males are actually smaller at the same age?
    Laura

    • waltersanford Says:

      Males are usually smaller than females, all things being equal. When I shot the photos in the “Toad-ally in love!” series of blog posts, I was using the built-in pop-up flash only. Since I switched to nearly full-time use of an external flash unit, I think the newer photos look much better. In my opinion the difference is especially noticeable looking at the detail that is visible underwater using the external flash. I’m curious to know whether you see a difference.

      • laura lecce Says:

        Um, to me toad-ally in love part 4 just has dirtier water. I think you might be right though that the clarity under the water is better more recently and depth of color is better in your recent ones compared to part 2 & 3. Though if this was truly an unbiased and blinded experiment, I doubt I would notice any difference.

        • waltersanford Says:

          Yeah, yeah — that’s just the scientific researcher in you talking, Laura! 😉 What does your “gut” tell you? Mine tells me the newer photos look much better. :-p

          • laura lecce Says:

            Lol, sometimes I let the nerd in me escape for a bit, can’t help it. I think your newer ones are better too, but for now my ‘gut’ is only telling me I’m hungry 😉

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