A laboratory experimental assessment of the sensibility of Rana temporaria tadpoles to the effects of car traffic-associated seismic disturbances

Effects of seismic disturbance on Common frog larvae


  • Octavian Craioveanu Academic Cultural Heritage Department – Vivarium, Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Karina Teslovan Department of Taxonomy and Ecology, Faculty for Biology and Geology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Alin David Department of Taxonomy and Ecology, Faculty for Biology and Geology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Clinicilor 5-7, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; 3Babeş-Bolyai University, Centre for Systems Biology, Biodiversity and Bioresources "3B", Clinicilor 5-7, 400006, Cluj-Napoca, Romania https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8659-5807
  • Cristina Craioveanu Department of Taxonomy and Ecology, Faculty for Biology and Geology, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Babeş-Bolyai University, Centre for Systems Biology, Biodiversity and Bioresources 3B, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Corresponding author, E-mail: cristina.craioveanu@ubbcluj.ro https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3683-2015




development, growth, metamorphosis, amphibian performance, traffic-related pollution


Vibrations generated by road traffic are considered to be a form of physical environmental pollution. Nonetheless, the effect of this disturbance in natural habitats, and in particular on the aquatic stage of amphibians, received very little attention from the scientific community.

This study aims to assess the direct effect of mechanical waves and the consequent water turbidity on the aquatic larval stage of Rana temporaria by exposing an experimental group to laboratory-induced vibrations and comparison with a non-exposed control group.

Our results show that this kind of pollution had no significant effect on the development rate, the length of the larval period, and the mortality of the larvae. However, we identified a significant effect on the size of animals, both during the larval period, and at metamorphosis. This result raises concern about the long-term risks to the amphibian population exposed to this type of low-profile pollution.


Adlassnig, W., Sassmann, S., Grawunder, A., Puschenreiter, M., Horvath, A., & Koller-Peroutka, M. (2013). Amphibians in metal-contaminated habitats. Salamandra. 49. 149-158.

Altig, R. (2007). A primer for the morphology of anuran tadpoles. Herpetol. Conserv. Biol. 2, 71-74.

Alvarez, J.A. (2013). Rana draytonii (California red-legged frog) Cannibalism. Herpetol. Rev. 44: 126–127.

Arendt, J.D. (1997). Adaptive intrinsic growth rates: an integration across taxa. Quat. Rev. Biol. 1997;72:149–177.

Beckerman, A., Benton, T.G., Ranta, E., Kaitala, V., Lundberg, P. (2002). Population dynamic consequences of delayed life-history effects. Trend Ecol Evol 17:263–269

Castaneda, E., Leavings, V.R., Noss, R., & Grace, M. K. (2020). The effects of traffic noise on tadpole behavior and development. Urban Ecosyst 23, 245–253 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-020-

Cărăuș, I. (2012). Algae of Romania. A distributional checklist of actual algae, Studii și Cercetări Biologice, Univ.Bacau 7,1-809 third revision

Chilto,n F., Friesz, T., & Chen, E. (1975). Traffic induced vibrations, https://onlinepubs.trb.org/

Craioveanu, O., Craioveanu, C., Ghira, I., Mireşan, V., & Hartel, T. (2019). Does carnivory pay off? Experiments on the effects of different types of diet on growth and development of Bufo bufo (Linnaeus, 1758) tadpoles and carry-over effects after metamorphosis. Herpetozoa. 32. 21-31. 10.3897/herpetozoa.32.e35627.

Craioveanu, O., Craioveanu, C., Bențea, M.I., Coroian, C., & Mireşan, V. (2021). Assessing the performance of Alphitobius piceus (Oliver, 1792) as novel feeder insect species for small sized postmetamorphic frogs. Stud. Univ. Babeş-Bolyai Biol.. 66. 5-20. 10.24193/subbbiol.2021.2.01.

Cooke, A.S., & Sparks, T.H. (2004). Population declines of Common toads (Bufo bufo): the contribution of road traffic and monitoring value of casualty counts. Herpetol Bull 88:13–26

Culley, D.D., Meyers, S.P., & Doucette, A. (1977). A high density rearing system for larval anurans. Lab.Anim., 6: 34-41.

Davis, A.K., ConneL, L.L., A. Grosse, A., & Maerz, J.C. (2008). A Fast, Non-invasive Method of Measuring Growth in Tadpoles Using Image Analysis. Herpetol. Rev. 39 (1), 56-58.

Denver, R.J., Mirhadi, N., & Phillips, M. (1998). Adaptive plasticity in amphibian metamorphosis: response of Scaphiopus hammondii tadpoles to habitat desiccation. Ecology 79: 1859–1872.

Denver, R.J. (2021). Stress hormones mediate developmental plasticity in vertebrates with complex life cycles. Neurobiol Stress. 2021 Feb 2;14:100301. doi: 10.1016/j.ynstr.2021.100301. PMID: 33614863; PMCID: PMC7879041.

Ducarne, L., Ainalis, D., & Kouroussis, G. (2018). Assessing the ground vibrations produced by a heavy vehicle traversing a traffic obstacle, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 612, Pages 1568-1576, doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.226.

Elzanowski, A., Ciesiołkiewicz, J., Kaczor, M., Radwańska, J., & Urban, R. (2009). Amphibian road mortality in Europe: A meta-analysis with new data from Poland. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 55. 33-43. 10.1007/s10344-008-0211-x.

Glennemeier, K.A., & Denver, R.J. (2002). Role for corticoids in mediating the response of Rana pipiens tadpoles to intraspecific competition. J. Exp. Zool., 292, 32–40.

Gosner, K., (1960). A Simplified Table for Staging Anuran Embryos and Larvae with Notes on Identification. Herpetologica 16 (3), 183-190.

Hajek, J.J., Blaney, C.T., & Hein, D.K. (2006). Mitigation of Highway Traffic-Induced Vibration. Quiet Pavements: Reducing Noise and Vibration. 2006 Annual Conference of the Transportation Association of Canada Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Hamer, A.J., Langton, T.E.S., & Lesbarrères, D. (2015). Making a Safe Leap Forward. Handbook of Road Ecology, pp.261–270. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118568170.ch31.

Hels, T., & Buchwald, E. (2001). The effect of road kills on amphibian populations. Biol Conserv 99:331–340 doi:10.1016/S0006-3207 (00)00215-9

Hunaidi, O., (2000). Traffic vibrations in buildings, National Science Library - National Research Council Canada, Construction Technology Update; no. 39

Jones, L.L.C., Leonard, W.P., & Olson D.H. (2005). Amphibians of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle.

Lawler, S.P., Dritz, D., Strange T., & Holyoak M. (1999). Effects of introduced mosquitofish and bullfrogs on the threatened California red-legged frog. Cons. Biol. 13: 613–622.

Licht, L.E. (1967). Growth inhibition in crowded tadpoles: intraspecific and interspecific effects. Ecology, 48: 736-745.

Mandelli, J., Arruda-Soares, H., Fontanello, D., Penteado, L.A., & Campos, B. (1987). Different sizes of net cages and the weight gains of bullfrog tadpoles. Rev. Fat. Med. Vet. Zootec. Univ. S. Paulo, 24: 209-212.

Martínez, I.,P., Álvarez, R., & Herráez, M.P. (1996). Growth and metamorphosis of Rana perezi larvae in culture: Effects of larval density. Aquaculture, Volume 142, Issues 3–4, 1996, Pages 163-170,

Newman, R.A. (1992). Adaptive plasticity in amphibian metamorphosis. Bioscience. 1992;42:671–678.

Niazmand-Aghdam, N., Ranjbarian, M., Khodakarim S., Mohammadian F., & Farhang Dehghan S. (2021). The effects of combined exposure to road traffic noise and whole body vibration on types of attention among men. Med Lav. 2021 Oct 28;112(5):360-369. doi: 10.23749/mdl.v112i5.11772. PMID: 34726664; PMCID: PMC8600575.

Puky, M. (2006). Amphibian road kills: a global perspective. In: Irwin CL, Garrett P, McDermott KP (eds) Proceedings of the 2005 international conference on ecology and transportation. Center for transportation and the environment. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, pp 325–338

Quinzio, F. (2014). The Lateral Line System in Anuran Tadpoles: Neuromast Morphology, Arrangement, and Innervation. The Anatomical Record, Vol297, issue8, 1508-1522

Rot-Nikcevic, I., Denver, R.J., & Wassersug, R.J. (2005). The influence of visual and tactile stimulation on growth and metamorphosis in anuran larvae. Functional Ecology 19, 1008–1016.

Sanzo, D., & Hecnar, S.J. (2005). Effects of road de-icing salt (NaCl) on larval wood frogs (Rana sylvatica). Environmental Pollution, Volume 140, Issue 2, 2006, Pages 247-256, ISSN 0269-7491, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2005.07.013.

Scott, D.E. (1994). The effect of larval density on adult demographic traits in Ambystoma opacum. Ecology 75:1383–1396

Semlitsch, R.D., & Caldwell, J.P. (1982). Effects of density on growth, metamorphosis, and survivorship in tadpoles of Sccrphiopus holbrooki. Ecology, 63: 905-911.

Semlitsch, R.D., Scott, D.E., & Pechmann, J.H. (1988). Time and size at metamorphosis related to adult fitness in Ambystoma talpoideum. Ecology 69: 184–192.

Smith-Gill, S.J., & Berven, K.A. (1979). Predicting amphibian metamorphosis. Am. Nat., 113: 563-585.

Stearns, S.C., & Koella, J.C. (1986). The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in life-history traits: predictions of reaction norms for age and size at maturity. Evolution. 1986;40:893–913.

Storer, T.I. (1925). A synopsis of the amphibia of California. University of California Publications in Zoology 27: 1–342.

Szekely, D., Cogalniceanu, D., Székely, P., Armijos, D., Espinosa, V., & Denoel, M. (2020). How to recover from a bad start: size at metamorphosis affects growth and survival in a tropical amphibian. BMC Ecology. 20. 24. 10.1186/s12898-020-00291-w.

Travis, L. (1981). Control of larval growth variation in a population of Pseuducriu triseriuta (Anura: Hylidae). Evolution, 35: 423-432.

Toplak, S., Lujej, S., Ivanic, A., & Lep, M. (2016). The pavement quality and vibrations. Integrated Solutions for Infrastructure Development. ISBN: 978-0-9960437-3-1

Van-Gelder, J.J. (1973). A quantitative approach to the mortality resulting from traffic in a population of Bufo bufo L. Oecologia 13:93–95 doi:10.1007/BF00379622

Watts, G.R. (1992). The generation and propagation of vibration in various soils produced by the dynamic loading of road pavements. J. Sound Vib., Volume 156, Issue 2,1992, Pages 191-206, ISSN 0022-460X, https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-460X(92)90692-Q.

Wilbur, H.M., & Collins, J.P. (1973). Ecological aspects of amphibian metamorphosis. Science 182: 1305–1314.

Wilbur, H.M. (1977). Density-dependant aspects of growth and metamorphosis in Bufo umericcmus. Ecology, 58: 196-200.