The presence of predators can induce changes in both the morphology and behaviour of Anuran larvae, affecting both their size and developmental stage at metamorphosis and, consequently, the fitness of adult individuals. Tadpoles have been shown to be capable of finely tuning their defensive responses according to the actual risk perceived, which is expected to vary according to the prey-to-predator size ratio. In this study, we exposed common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles (Gosner stages 28–30), for a period of 2 weeks, to the non-lethal presence of dragonfly larvae (Anax imperator) and backswimmers (Notonecta glauca). In such a narrow window of time, we expected behavioural responses to be similar for both predators and exposure to predation risk to have negligible effects on tadpole development and weight. Overall, tadpoles increased hiding behaviour and were less active when predators were present in the experimental mesocosms, but behavioural responses were constrained to the early phase of the ontogeny and were no longer used when tadpoles reached a threshold size. Developmental rate slightly slowed down for predator treatments in comparison to controls, possibly as a consequence of energetic investment in unrecorded morphological defences. Although variation in laboratory conditions and protocols makes it hard to compare the results of different experiments, our results contribute to verify the consistency of behavioural responses in Anuran larvae.

Behavioural and life history responses to predation risk by common frog tadpoles exposed to two predators during ontogeny

GAZZOLA, ANDREA;GHITTI, MICHELE;PAGANELLI, DANIELE;GALEOTTI, PAOLO
2017-01-01

Abstract

The presence of predators can induce changes in both the morphology and behaviour of Anuran larvae, affecting both their size and developmental stage at metamorphosis and, consequently, the fitness of adult individuals. Tadpoles have been shown to be capable of finely tuning their defensive responses according to the actual risk perceived, which is expected to vary according to the prey-to-predator size ratio. In this study, we exposed common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles (Gosner stages 28–30), for a period of 2 weeks, to the non-lethal presence of dragonfly larvae (Anax imperator) and backswimmers (Notonecta glauca). In such a narrow window of time, we expected behavioural responses to be similar for both predators and exposure to predation risk to have negligible effects on tadpole development and weight. Overall, tadpoles increased hiding behaviour and were less active when predators were present in the experimental mesocosms, but behavioural responses were constrained to the early phase of the ontogeny and were no longer used when tadpoles reached a threshold size. Developmental rate slightly slowed down for predator treatments in comparison to controls, possibly as a consequence of energetic investment in unrecorded morphological defences. Although variation in laboratory conditions and protocols makes it hard to compare the results of different experiments, our results contribute to verify the consistency of behavioural responses in Anuran larvae.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1188815
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