Sharp-nosed African reed frogs, Hyperolius nasutus Gunther, are small (0.4 g) hyperoliids which have minimal rates of evaporative water loss (4.5 mg g-1 h-1; 0.3 mg cm-2 h-1) that are only 1/10 to 1/20 that of a typical frog, Hylaregilla, of comparable size (171 mg g-1 h-1, 4.8 mg cm-2 h-1). The surface-area-specific resistance to water flux of H. nasutus dorsal skin (96–257 sec cm-1) is similar to that of other ‘waterproof’ frogs (300–400), of cocooned frogs (40–500), and of desert reptiles (200–1400). However, H. nasutus can greatly increase the rate of evaporative water loss during radiative heat stress by mucous gland discharge, and by exposing the ventral skin. Urea is the principal nitrogenous waste product of H. nasutus and uric acid comprises less than 1% of the total nitrogen excretion for both H. nasutus and H. regilla. Other ‘waterproof’ frogs, in contrast, are uricotelic. Lethal dehydration requires less than two weeks in H. nasutus, despite its low surface-area-specific rate of water loss, because of its small size and concomitantly high surface-to-volume ratio. The rate of urea accumulation during dehydration was 23 mM g-1 day-1, which is sufficiently low that urea accumulation would not be lethal before the frog had succumbed to dehydrational death. Consequently, there appears to be little or no selective advantage for uricotely in small ‘waterproof’ frogs, such as H. nasutus.
- © 1982 by Company of Biologists