UNIQUE BEHAVIORS

Images documenting uncommonly seen behaviors of animals in the wild.

▲ Male parental care is quite rare in nature, but a variety of frogs throughout the tropics show instances where the father transports the young on his back. In most cases this involves carrying either eggs or tadpoles, but in a few New Guinean species, such as this Sphenophryne cornuta, actual froglets ride in piggyback fashion. A member of the Microhylidae, these frogs have direct-development larvae which means that the tadpoles morph into tiny frogs before leaving the egg, an adaptation enabling them to negate the need for a pool of water. The froglets will hitch a ride on the back of their father for several days before being dispersed in the rainforest understory. Digul River, Papua, Indonesia (New Guinea).

▲ A male Bornean Tree-hole Frog (Metaphrynella sundana) calls for a mate from its lair.  These frogs are able to modify the pitch of their call to match the resonating frequency of the tree-hole chamber, thereby amplifying their volume. Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

▲ The smallest frog in Borneo at scarcely over 1 cm in length, a male Matang Narrow-mouthed Frog (Microhyla nepenthicola), perches on the lip of a pitcher plant (Nepenthes ampullaria) where he will entice a female to lay her eggs. These tiny frogs are so far known to breed only in the water-filled chambers of certain pitcher plants, and their small size may be an adaptation for this lifestyle. Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

A Golden Forest Ant (Polyrhachis ypsilon) has been killed by a parasitic Ophiocordyceps fungus which has consumed its body. Before dying, the behaviour of infected ants is controlled by the fungus, and are directed to climb to a suitable location usually on the underside of a leaf. There the fungus kills its host and produces fruiting bodies which releases spores to infect more ants below. Sabah, Malaysia. ►

▲ Near the summit of Gunung Murud (Sarawak's highest mountain), an new and undescribed species of tiny bush frog (Philautus sp.) hides within the fluid of a carnivorous pitcher plant (Nepenthes mollis), apparently unaffected by the plant's digestive juices therein. Phytotelmata (water bodies held by plants) provide living quarters and breeding grounds for many unique creatures which are completely dependent on them. Pulong Tau National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

     This unusual pitcher plant (Nepenthes lowii) derives its nutrition from the droppings of the Mountain Treeshrew (Tupaia montana). The animals are attracted to the plant's copious nectar secretions, and inevitably leave their scat in the pitchers which are designed like a natural toilet receptacle. Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

Mountain Treeshrew (Tupaia montana) feeding at Nepenthes rajah.  Recent research has shown the the world's largest pitcher plant Nepenthes rajah is not exclusively carnivorous. Like the related N. lowii, this species attracts treeshrews by secreting nectar on the undersurface of the lid. These animals frequently leave their droppings in the pitcher, which serves as a valuable nitrogen source in their impoverished mountain habitat. Mount Kinabalu National Park, Sabah, Malaysia.

▲ In one of the most ancient instances of monoculture, Macrotermes termites cultivate gardens of Termitomyces fungus as a form of external digestion, enabling the break down plant lignin for their consumption. Here, soldiers and nymphs of M. gilvus attend their fungus comb, found deep within their subterranean nest.

     Few things exemplify the incredible complexity of rainforest ecosystems more than that of mutualisms between species. Here, a group of Giant Forest Ants (Dinomyrmex gigas) tend to a pair of lanternflies (Pyrops cultellatus), a relationship that has a net benefit for both species. The lanternflies, feeding directly from the phloem of the tree with their piercing straw-like mouthparts, harvest much more sugar-rich fluid than they actually need; the excess being excreted intermittently as a squirt of honeydew droplets from their abdomen. The ants position themselves directly behind and below the lanternflies and intercept these droplets with their heads, then consume the fluid and share it with their nestmates. In return, the ants guard the lanternflies and will ferociously attack any potential threat. Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo).

After quickly selecting a ripe fig (Ficus fistulosa), a Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis) makes off with her prize to dine some distance away at a safe perch, thereby helping to disperse the tree's seeds that will ultimately lead to fruit for her future generations. Figs reach their pinnacle of diversity in Borneo with at least 150 species and, perhaps more than any other group of plants, are considered keystone species of the rainforest because of the complex interdependences they exhibit with countless animals and insects. Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo). ▼

Horned Land Frog (Sphenophryne cornuta).
Bornean Tree-hole Frog (Metaphrynella su
Matang Narrow-mouthed Frog (Microhyla ne
Golden Forest Ant (Polyrhachis ypsilon),
Bush frog (Philautus sp. nov.).jpg
Mountain Treeshrew (Tupaia montana) on N
Mountain Treeshrew (Tupaia montana) feed
Termites (Macrotermes gilvus).jpg
Giant Forest Ants (Camponotus gigas) and

After detecting the presence of a wood-boring grub with her antennae, a female ichneumon wasp drills through the tree bark with her ovipositor to deposit an egg on the insect's body. Halmahera, Indonesia.

Short-nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachy
Ichneumon wasp, female laying eggs.jpg

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