Japanese Tadpoles Thrive in Hot Springs

Posted on July 26, 2016

Japense tadpoles in a hot spring or onsen

Japanese tadpoles have been founding thriving in natural hot springs, known as onsen. Water temperatures in these springs can reach 46.1 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists say the ability enables the tadpoles to survive on volcanic islands where there are few other natural water sources.

The hot springs containing the tadpoles are shallow mud pools in the forests of the small, subtropical island of Kuchinoshima. They are tadpoles of the Japanese stream tree frogs (Buergeria japonica). This is the hottest ever recorded temperatures for any amphibian tadpole. The research was completed by scientists at Hiroshima University with collaborators at SOKENDAI, The Graduate University for Advanced Studies.

Takeshi Igawa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Hiroshima University and last author of the current study, says in a statement, "Scientists have studied the distributions of organisms and their environmental adaptations since the era of Darwin and Wallace. Our report is one of the best examples of a direct connection between an animal's physical ability to tolerate diverse environmental conditions and the animal's success at colonizing diverse geographic areas."

A research paper on the study was published here in the journal, Amphibia-Reptilia.

Photo: Shohei Komaki