The amphibian family Nyctibatrachidae forms one of the three oldest frog families and these species are found only in India and Sri-Lanka. Within the genus Nyctibatrachus there are currently 36 species, many of which have unique reproductive behaviours (see Croaking Science May 2019: https://www.froglife.org/2019/04/). Three closely related species within the genus occupy similar habitats on the forest floor, close to streams. Two of the species, Jog’s Night Frog (Nyctibatrachus jog) and the Kempholey Night Frog (N. kempholeyensis) both lay small clutches of eggs on leaves or branches overhanging slow-moving or still water bodies. The male then guards the eggs and provides water to prevent them drying out (AmphibiaWeb, 2011). However, the recently discovered Kumbara night frog (Nyctibatrachus kumbara) has a unique strategy for protecting its eggs. After laying a small clutch of between 4 and 6 eggs on a branch over-hanging water, the male collects mud and covers the eggs (Figure 1). This is thought to help protect the eggs from predators and prevent them from drying out (Gururaja et al., 2014). Covering eggs with mud in this way has not been recorded in any other species of frog and represents a unique method of protection (Gururaja et al., 2014). After covering the eggs with mud, the males will call to attract females which lay further clutches nearby. The male remains close to the egg clutches for several days until the eggs hatch. By exhibiting an alternative reproductive strategy, this species reduces competition between closely related species which occupy similar ecological niches.
AmphibiaWeb (2011) Nyctibatrachus jog: Jog’s Night Frog <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/7715> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jan 3, 2020.
Gururaja, K.V., Dinesh, K.P., Priti, H. & Ravikanth, G. (2014) Mud- packing frog: a novel breeding behaviour and parental care in a stream dwelling new species of Nyctibatrachus (Amphibia, Anura, Nyctibatrachus). Zootaxa, 3796: 33-61.