Macquarie University
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Investigating aggregation behaviour and cognitive performance in the magnificent tree frog

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posted on 2022-10-18, 22:34 authored by Stephanie Deering

The magnificent tree frog (Litoria splendida) is endemic to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. We know very little about this species in the wild. Litoria splendida has been observed aggregating in crevices in their natural habitat, although this has not been quantified. The reason for this grouping behaviour is unknown, but may be for social reasons. Social grouping can lead to greater behavioural flexibility and faster rates of learning through observing conspecifics. To investigate whether L.splendida groups for social reasons, I used a matched-pairs design to first test grouping behaviour and whether grouping preference was influenced by familiarity. I also investigated their cognitive (learning) performance through a series of spatial cognition tasks in a laboratory environment. In lab-based experiments, frogs were more likely to be solitary and there was no effect of familiarity on grouping. Frogs also did poorly in the three cognitive tasks they were presented, frequently not making it past training phases. No animals reached the learning criterion and they showed very little evidence of learning. I suggest that they are neophobic, preventing them from engaging with the tasks presented. I provide an overview of tests used in frog spatial learning and link these to ecological context.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Do magnificent tree frogs aggregate for social reasons? -- Chapter 2: A review of methods used in anuran spatial cognition studies -- Methods- Experiment 1 -- Results- Experiment 1 -- Methods- Experiment 2 -- Results- Experiment 2 -- Methods- Experiment 3 -- Results- Experiment 3 -- Overall results -- Discussion -- References


Submitted as part of the requirements for completion of the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, 2021

Department, Centre or School

Department of Biological Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Martin Whiting

Additional Supervisor 1

Simon Clulow

Additional Supervisor 2

Culum Brown


Copyright: Stephanie Deering Copyright disclaimer:




Australia Western Australia


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