Lateralization consists of the differential use of bilateral organs or limbs and is well described in many taxa and in several contexts. Common ecological frameworks where it can be observed are foraging and predatory ones, with benefits related to both visual and auditory lateralization such as faster response or increasing neural processing ability. Anuran amphibians are considered relevant models for investigating lateralization, due to their great ecological variety and the possibility of easily being raised under laboratory conditions. By adopting the "rotational preference test", we used Balearic green toad tadpoles to test the effects of behavioural defensive responses triggered by different predator types (native vs alien, i.e. dragonfly larvae Aeshna cyanea and adult red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii) and diets (fasted vs. tadpole-fed predators) on their lateralization. We recorded tadpoles' responses to five different chemical cues: clean water (control treatment), fasted dragonfly larvae and crayfish, and tadpole-fed dragonfly larvae and crayfish. Green toad tadpoles did not show a bias in a predominant direction, although lateralization occurred at the individual level, as shown by the intensity index (LA). Perceived predation risk was the highest in tadpoles exposed to the combined chemical cues of conspecific prey and native predators, which elicited both changes in the intensity of lateralization and a marked reduction in tadpoles' activity level. Our results suggest that contextual predation threat may induce very rapid changes in the expression of asymmetries at the individual level, and might play a role as part of the complex defensive strategies adopted by prey in the attempt to escape predators.
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