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Intel volunteers assist in wetland preservation and restoration of Taiwan’s indigenous aquatic plants on a long-term basis                  Focus of this issue: Fejervarya limnocharis (Rice Field Frog)

In the evenings in late spring or early summer, especially after raining, loud frog cries can often be heard, and such frogs can be found by following their crying. This issue of our e-newsletter introduces Fejervarya limnocharis (Rice Field Frog).

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Fejervarya limnocharis (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong)

 

Fejervarya limnocharis were named by zoologist Heinrich Boie in 1934, but how they were named or where they were found is unclear. Their Latin species name limmo refers to lakes or swamps while charis refers to beautiful. Therefore, their scientific name may poetically indicate it is the beautiful frog in the swamp.

 

The medium-sized frog is four to six cm long, and the length and width of its head are about the same. Its eardrum and temporal fold are prominent. Sides of its snout are sharp but the rostrum is not. The dark wrinkles by upper and lower lips similar to lip wrinkles resulting from aging and aboriginal tattooed faces, which are a very prominent feature of the frog. There are many spiny warts on the dorsum with different colors and patterns to make each and very frog distinctive. The body color is generally brown or dark grey, and some frogs have distinctive reddish brown or green stripes or gold dorsal lines. This is probably why frog’s scientific name may indicate it is the beautiful frog in the swamp. There is a V-shaped dark mark between eyes and a W-shaped marking across the shoulder girdle. Some of them have a medial stripe of different widths on the dorsum, with dark spots on the flanks extending from the shoulder girdle. On the dorsum, there are bar-shaped folds of different lengths irregularly distributed and there are warts between the folds and on the flanks, rear end, and back of limbs. The smooth belly is creamy yellow. Upper front legs have transverse lines. Fingers are obtusely pointed and subarticular tubercles are very prominent. Rear legs are shorter than front legs but have transverse lines, too. Inner thighs have many white tubercles. Half-webbed toes are pointed and have subarticular tubercles. A male frog has a single external vocal sac beneath the throat but the single vocal sac is often mistaken to be a pair of vocal sacs because of a line in the middle of the sac.

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Fejervarya limnocharis (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong)

 

Common name: Rice Field Frog
Body length: ♂ 3.5 to 5 cm ♀4.5 to 6 cm
Breeding period: March through October
Geographic distribution: Shandong Province, Gansu Province, Southern China, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Habitat: Commonly found in the vicinity of rice paddies, ponds, lakes, marshes, and aqueducts in Taiwan.

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Fejervarya limnocharis (photo courtesy of Chen Dehong)

 

Fejervarya limnocharis — the most frequently seen species of frogs in Taiwan – can be found in low mountains, on flat grounds, or even in stinky ditches. This is because they are very adaptive to different environments and highly reproductive. Fejervarya limnocharis eat a lot and are also very gluttonous, never letting go of any smaller creature passing by. They have a long breeding period from March through October but the period focuses on spring and summer. After mating, male and female frogs remain coupled for a long time until egg-laying at daybreak. During egg-laying, the female frog has its head downward and cloaca upward. There are many times of egg-laying every year and each time as many as 700 to 1,600 tiny eggs are laid with egg masses floating on the water. The dorsum of tadpoles is brownish grey or olive green with dark brown spots. The long and slender tadpole tail with dark fine spots is two times of the body length. The small mouth is under the snout and dark vertical spots on lips are the greatest feature.

 

Fejervarya limnocharis are active during daytime and at night but very timid. They would run away at the sight of any person approaching, and approaching them gently and slowly enough is required for observing them. In the evenings in late spring or early summer, especially after raining, it is a good time to visit Fejervarya limnocharis because loud frog cries can be heard, and such frogs can be found by following their crying. Fejervarya limnocharis cry aloud and the cry is sometimes high-pitched or deep and suppressed. A single frog crying is very different from two frogs crying to each other that sounds like loudness competition. Fejervarya limnocharis have brown, green, and mixed color bodies and as well as central dorsal lines of different widths. Some Fejervarya limnocharis with fork-shaped central dorsal lines like flashing lightning are often mistaken to be a new species.

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Volunteers from Intel Taiwan visit the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli.

 

For more than five years, volunteers from Intel Taiwan have been visiting the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli on the second Saturday of every month, cleaning up footpaths, getting rid of invasive alien plants, and digging ponds and embanking water to develop an environment where aquatic plants can propagate.  They welcome everyone to join them to together protect the environment.

 

About Intel’s volunteer service provided to the Wanli wetland

Since December 2010, volunteers from Intel Taiwan have been visiting the aquatic plant sanctuary in Wanli every month, assisting in wetland development and restoration of Taiwan’s indigenous aquatic plants.  The sanctuary is private property but provided by Mr. Chen Dehong (陳德鴻) to help restore Taiwan’s rare aquatic plants.  Large machines and tools cannot work on the farmland, where ecological ponds have been developed by manual labor.  At the beginning, Intel volunteers relied on hoes and shovels to dig ecological ponds one after another on the terrace field there, and then crystalized soils to prevent water leakages, and used rocks to build pond side slopes and footpaths.  Working with the Society of Wildness, Intel volunteers have transformed the abandoned terrace field into ecological ponds and an artificial wetland to accommodate and restore the aquatic plants unique to Taiwan

 

After the ecological ponds there gradually took shape, they started to help transplant aquatic plants restored from other wetlands in Taiwan, such as Barringtonia racemose and Cephalanthus naucleoides from Yilan and Salix alba var. Tristis from Nantou.  Because different aquatic plants need different environments, for example, insectivorous plants need an infertile environment, Intel volunteers moved sand and flows to the habitat of insectivorous plants.  When Salix alba var. Tristis is dormant in winter, it has to be pot-transplanted and then distributed to natural parks or schools for ecology education.

 

Moreover, the sanctuary needs manpower to keep its environment clean.  For example, footpaths need to be weeded and invasive plants in ecological ponds should be removed on a regular basis.  After typhoons, pond side slopes should be reinforced.

 

Since December 2010, there have been near 1,300 person-times of Intel volunteers with more than 6,000 volunteer hours logged.  More than 150 kinds of plants have been preserved, amounting to one-third of the indigenous aquatic plants in Taiwan.

 

P.S. Gratitude to the rice field frog photos provided by Mr. Chen Dehong)

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