U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Journal of Thermal Biology 114 (2023) 103590



U.S. government work


The coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) was introduced to the island of Hawai’i in the 1980s and has spread across much of the island. Concern remains that this frog will continue to expand its range and invade higher elevation habitats where much of the island’s endemic species are found. We determined whether coqui thermal tolerance and physiology change along Hawai’i’s elevational gradients. We measured physiological responses using a short-term experiment to determine baseline tolerance and physiology by elevation, and a long-term experiment to determine the coqui’s ability to acclimate to different temperatures. We collected frogs from low, medium, and high elevations. After both the short and long-term experiments, we measured critical thermal minimum (CTmin), blood glucose, oxidative stress, and corticosterone levels. CTmin was lower in high elevation frogs than low elevation frogs after the short acclimation experiment, signifying that they acclimate to local conditions. After the extended acclimation, CTmin was lower in frogs acclimated to cold temperatures compared to warm-acclimated frogs and no longer varied by elevation. Blood glucose levels were positively correlated with elevation even after the extended acclimation, suggesting glucose may also be related to lower temperatures. Oxidative stress was higher in females than males, and corticosterone was not significantly related to any predictor variables. The extended acclimation experiment showed that coquis can adjust their thermal tolerance to different temperatures over a 3-week period, suggesting the expansion of coqui into higher elevation habitats may still be possible, and they may not be as restricted by cold temperatures as previously thought.