The Great Plains Antelope: The Power of Natural Selection

Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains each year with an average of 80 percent survival. These “wonder frogs” are the result of crossbreeding between a male Mexican yellow-legged frog and…

The Great Plains Antelope: The Power of Natural Selection

Rare yellow-legged frogs are returned to drought-hammered San Gabriel Mountains each year with an average of 80 percent survival. These “wonder frogs” are the result of crossbreeding between a male Mexican yellow-legged frog and a female San Gabriel Mountain black-spotted salamander. The frogs are native to Mexico and Guatemala where they are found in low-lying areas of rain forests. This is not a good time for a male to mate, as the mating season starts in May and ends in November. The female lays a clutch of eight to 20 eggs in a “rabbithole” of her eggs which are deposited in a mound at the mouth of a tributary of a stream. The eggs hatch and the young frogs grow out of the eggs and seek the main stream to begin their life cycle.

“WOW” is the first word I think of when I hear the term “wildlife rehab.” This is probably because I am a big fan of rehabilitating wildlife, from the gentle, wild-living skunk and possum in my garden to the wild horses of the great plains. I am also a conservationist who believes that rehabilitation is the key to nature’s biodiversity. One can’t just preserve a species of antelope for all time, which would be a futile exercise. Every animal has a life cycle that must be considered in its entirety.

A wild animal, like the great plains antelope, can survive for years and decades without human intervention; even in captivity, its life cycle may span thousands of years. The Great Plains antelope is an example of the power that natural selection has over the species. In the wild, these magnificent animals live in small herds of 50 or so individuals, with a group of three males fighting it out for the breeding rights to the females.

These wild creatures survive by fighting for dominance of the territory they share with other individuals. Males have several reasons for fighting for dominance. The most important one is to gain access to the females, for which they fight. Males can only gain access to females if they dominate the territory. They must

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