Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Toads' earthquake exodus

Date:
April 1, 2010
Source:
Zoological Society of London
Summary:
Common toads (Bufo bufo) can detect impending seismic activity and alter their behavior from breeding to evacuation mode, suggests a new study.

Common toad, Bufo bufo.
Credit: iStockphoto/Alasdair Thomson

Common toads (Bufo bufo) can detect impending seismic activity and alter their behaviour from breeding to evacuation mode, suggests a new study in the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Journal of Zoology.

Researchers from The Open University reported that 96 per cent of male toads in a population abandoned their breeding site five days before the earthquake that struck L'Aquila in Italy in 2009. The breeding site was located 74 km from the earthquake's epicentre.

The number of paired toads at the breeding site also dropped to zero three days before the earthquake. No fresh spawn was found at the site from the date that the earthquake struck to the date of the last significant aftershock (magnitude >4.5).

Breeding sites are male-dominated and the toads would normally remain in situ from the point that breeding activity begins, to the completion of spawning.

This shift in the toads' behaviour coincided with disruptions in the ionosphere, the uppermost electromagnetic layer of the earth's atmosphere, which were detected using very low frequency (VLF) radio sounding.

The release of radon gas, or gravity waves prior to an earthquake have both been attributed to changes in atmospheric electric fields and currents. In this case the cause of the ionosphere disruptions was not determined.

Other environmental changes that affect toad behaviour, including lunar phases and changing weather conditions were accounted for. The number of toads breeding at the study site was known to increase during a full moon. However, following the earthquake the number of toads present during a full moon was 34, in comparison to between 67 and 175 individuals in previous years.

"Our study is one of the first to document animal behaviour before, during and after an earthquake. Our findings suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system," says lead author Dr Rachel Grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Zoological Society of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Zoological Society of London. "Toads' earthquake exodus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330210949.htm>.
Zoological Society of London. (2010, April 1). Toads' earthquake exodus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330210949.htm
Zoological Society of London. "Toads' earthquake exodus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100330210949.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins