Various species of frogs produce foam nests that hold their eggs during development. We examined the external morphology and histology of structures associated with foam nest production in frogs of the genus Leptodactylus and a few other taxa. We found that the posterior convolutions of the oviducts in all mature female foam-nesting frogs that we examined were enlarged and compressed into globular structures. This organ-like portion of the oviduct has been called a "foam gland" and these structures almost certainly produce the secretion that is beaten by rhythmic limb movements into foam that forms the nest. However, the label "foam gland" is a misnomer because the structures are simply enlarged and tightly folded regions of the pars convoluta of the oviduct, rather than a separate structure; we suggest the name pars convoluta dilata (PCD) for this feature. Although all the foam-nesters we examined had a pars convoluta dilata, its size and shape showed considerable interspecific variation. Some of this variation likely reflects differences in the breeding behaviors among species and in the size, type, and placement of their foam nests. Other variation, particularly in size, may be associated with the physiological periodicity and reproductive state of the female, her age, and/or the number of times she has laid eggs.
Additional publication details
Oviduct modifications in foam-nesting frogs, with emphasis on the genus Leptodactylus (Amphibia, Leptodactylidae)