If you’re in a wooded wetland area of Shenandoah National Park and you hear a whole lot of “quacking” going on, chances are that you aren’t hearing ducks. Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) are considered “explosive breeders:” virtually all adults in a population show up at the same place at about the same time to play the mating game. The male chorus ~ often heard throughout the day ~ sounds so…rt of like a contentious convention of ducks.
Wood Frogs place their hopes for the future on vernal pools: temporary ponds that are free of predatory fish. The risk is that the pool may dry up before the eggs hatch or before the tadpoles can metamorphose into air-breathing juvenile frogs. If successful, the new generation of Wood Frogs will leave their natal pond and spend the rest of their lives roaming the forest floor in search of insects and other invertebrates.
They’ll hibernate under leaf litter in winter, when, amazingly, they can undergo freezing and thawing without damage to their tissue, thanks to the production of “antifreeze”-like compounds. In early spring, as soon as the air temperature rises above 50 degrees, the new adult Wood Frogs will head to the nearest vernal pond to start the cycle all over again.