Frogs take to the trees: The surprising role of Xenohyla truncata as potential pollinators

The alluring fruit and nectar-filled blossoms of the milk fruit tree exert an irresistible pull on Xenohyla truncata, a tree frog indigenous to Brazil. During balmy evenings, these dusky-colored frogs congregate in the trees, eagerly jostling for a chance to nibble on the fruit and savor the nectar. In this process, the frogs unwittingly accumulate sticky pollen grains, potentially engaging in inadvertent plant pollination. This remarkable discovery marks the first observation of a frog, or any amphibian for that matter, acting as a pollinator, as recently reported in the journal Food Webs.

Traditionally, scientists believed that only insects and birds fulfilled the crucial role of pollinators. However, studies have revealed that certain reptiles and mammals are equally adept at this task. Consequently, researchers are now compelled to consider whether amphibians are also capable of fulfilling this vital ecological function. It seems probable that these nectar-loving frogs, commonly referred to as Izecksohn’s Brazilian tree frogs, are transferring pollen as they traverse from one flower to another. Nevertheless, further investigations are warranted to conclusively establish the inclusion of frogs in the esteemed ranks of Earth’s pollinators.

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