Living in a Japanese onsen: field observations and physiological measurements of hot spring amphibian tadpoles, Buergeria japonica

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  • 1 Global Career Design Center, Hiroshima University, 1-7-1, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 739-8514, Japan
  • 2 Department of Evolutionary Studies of Biosystems, Sokendai (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies), 1560-35, Hayama, Kanagawa 240-0193, Japan
  • 3 Division of Developmental Science, Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, Hiroshima University, 1-5-1, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 739-8529, Japan

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The Japanese stream tree frog, Buergeria japonica, is widely distributed across the southern islands of Japan and Taiwan. While the species is known to inhabit hot springs, this has only been reported in Taiwan. To further understand the utilization of hot springs by B. japonica, we conducted field observations of tadpoles from a hot spring on Kuchinoshima Island, a tiny volcanic island of southwestern Japan. We found that tadpoles on Kuchinoshima Island inhabited hot spring pools with extremely high temperatures that exceeded temperatures in which any other amphibians have been found. In addition, we conducted thermal tolerance measurements and found that the thermal tolerance of B. japonica tadpoles was high. These findings suggest that high thermal tolerance of B. japonica is maintained even at the northern tip of its distribution, and this has allowed them to widen their available niche and inhabit a hot spring on the tiny island of Kuchinoshima.

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