Simple Summary Tadpoles are known to use their sense of smell to detect the presence of predators, but some studies showed their reliance on vision during social interaction, suggesting that vision might have a role in predatory contexts as well. Here, we investigated how chemical or visual cues of a native predator, or a combination of both, influence the defensive behaviour of green toad tadpoles. We expected tadpoles to reduce their activity when exposed to chemical cues and avoid the area of the experimental arena near to the caged predator when exposed to the visual ones. With both cues, we expected tadpoles to show both responses and with greater intensity. Our results indicate that visual cues alone do not elicit any apparent defensive response, suggesting that tadpoles mainly rely on chemical cues to assess predation risk. The anti-predator behaviour of green toad (Bufotes balearicus) tadpoles was investigated by exposing them to only the visual or chemical cues, or a combination of both, of a native predator, southern hawker Aeshna cyanea. We collected green toad egg strings in the field and tadpoles did not receive any predatory stimulus before the onset of the experiment. To manipulate chemical and visual cues independently, dragonfly larvae were caged inside a transparent plastic container, while chemical cues (odour of tadpole-fed dragonfly larvae) were injected into the surrounding arena. An empty container and water were used, respectively, as controls. The behaviour of individually tested tadpoles was videorecorded for 40 min, of which 20 were before their exposure to stimuli. Five second-distance frames were compared to assess both tadpole activity and position within the arena with respect to the visual stimulus. The tadpole level of activity strongly decreased after exposure to either chemical cues alone or in combination with visual cues, while visual cues alone apparently did not elicit any defensive response. The position of tadpoles inside the arena was not affected by visual cues, suggesting that green toad tadpoles mainly rely on olfactory cues to assess the level of predation risk.

Multimodal Cues Do Not Improve Predator Recognition in Green Toad Tadpoles

Gazzola, Andrea;Guadin, Bianca;Balestrieri, Alessandro;Pellitteri-Rosa, Daniele
2022-01-01

Abstract

Simple Summary Tadpoles are known to use their sense of smell to detect the presence of predators, but some studies showed their reliance on vision during social interaction, suggesting that vision might have a role in predatory contexts as well. Here, we investigated how chemical or visual cues of a native predator, or a combination of both, influence the defensive behaviour of green toad tadpoles. We expected tadpoles to reduce their activity when exposed to chemical cues and avoid the area of the experimental arena near to the caged predator when exposed to the visual ones. With both cues, we expected tadpoles to show both responses and with greater intensity. Our results indicate that visual cues alone do not elicit any apparent defensive response, suggesting that tadpoles mainly rely on chemical cues to assess predation risk. The anti-predator behaviour of green toad (Bufotes balearicus) tadpoles was investigated by exposing them to only the visual or chemical cues, or a combination of both, of a native predator, southern hawker Aeshna cyanea. We collected green toad egg strings in the field and tadpoles did not receive any predatory stimulus before the onset of the experiment. To manipulate chemical and visual cues independently, dragonfly larvae were caged inside a transparent plastic container, while chemical cues (odour of tadpole-fed dragonfly larvae) were injected into the surrounding arena. An empty container and water were used, respectively, as controls. The behaviour of individually tested tadpoles was videorecorded for 40 min, of which 20 were before their exposure to stimuli. Five second-distance frames were compared to assess both tadpole activity and position within the arena with respect to the visual stimulus. The tadpole level of activity strongly decreased after exposure to either chemical cues alone or in combination with visual cues, while visual cues alone apparently did not elicit any defensive response. The position of tadpoles inside the arena was not affected by visual cues, suggesting that green toad tadpoles mainly rely on olfactory cues to assess the level of predation risk.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1485020
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