True Frog

Associated Smithsonian Expert: George R. Zug, Ph.D.

Zoologist George Zug takes a break from his fieldwork studying reptiles and amphibians while in Myanmar.

Courtesy of Jeremy Jacobs

Dr. George R. Zug is an emeritus research zoologist in the Department of Vertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and one of the world's foremost experts on reptiles and amphibians of the Pacific. His current research focuses on the biology and systematics of Asian and Pacific amphibians and reptiles. He first became interested in herpetology as an undergraduate when a professor asked him to join a herpetological expedition to Cuba [pre-Castro]. He majored in biology at Albright College and then went on to obtain a master's degree in zoology at the University of Florida and a doctorate degree in zoology at the University of Michigan. The thing he likes best about studying reptiles and amphibians is excitement of discovery, whether new species or aspects about a species' biology.

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Southern toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) mating
Courtesy of Mark Musselman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, public domain

VIDEO LIBRARY

About Frogs and Toads (Order Anura): Communication

Anurans (frogs and toads) communicate largely through sound. Every species has a unique vocalization or “call.” The sound is made by passing air through a part of the throat called the larynx, similar to how we make sound. Most frogs also have a pouch under their throats (vocal sacs) that stretch during calling to amplify the sound. Calling is used by males to attract females for mating. While males may call individually, in many species they gather in groups, resulting in a chorus of calls. Aggregating may give males the advantage of attracting more females, although then they must compete for them. There is evidence that females select males based on how loud and/or low they call, causing natural selection for powerful calls (sexual selection). Frogs also use sound to communicate distress (if grabbed by a predator), defend territories, or other events.