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Title: Cannibalistic interactions resulting from indiscriminate predatory behavior in tadpoles of poison frogs (Anura: Dendrobatidae)
Authors: Caldwell, Janalee P.
Araújo, Maria Carmozina de
Keywords: Cannibalism
Poison Frog
Predator-prey Interaction
Para [brazil]
Dendrobates Auratus
Dendrobates Castaneoticus
Trichoprosopon Digitatum
Issue Date: 1998
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Biotropica
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 30, Número 1, Pags. 92-103
Abstract: Poison frogs in the genus Dendrobates have very small clutch sizes (2-6 eggs among species for which there are data) and typically transport their tadpoles singly to small phytotelmata, such as bromeliad tanks, leaf axils, fallen fruit capsules, and treeholes. Tadpoles of many species are predaceous, consuming larvae of insects that use the same microhabitat for breeding, such as giant damselflies and mosquitoes. Previous studies and observations on the behavior of poison frog tadpoles led us to question whether tadpoles might be cannibalistic. We studied a population of Dendrobates castaneoticus in lowland rainforest in Pará, Brazil; additional data were collected on Dendrobates auratus in Nicaragua. At the study site in Brazil, we established a grid of 40 Brazil nut capsules, the microhabitat used by D. castaneoticus for tadpole deposition. Of 42 tadpoles deposited during the 55 days of the study, 20 were killed or died; 16 of these were presumably killed by conspecific tadpoles. Growth rate and time to metamorphosis was higher among tadpoles that consumed three or more tadpoles or relatively large larvae of the mosquito Trichoprosopon digitatum, a colonist of newly opened Brazil nut capsules. We propose that selection has favored the development of predatory behavior in poison frog tadpoles primarily as a mechanism to eliminate predators from the small phytotelmata in which they develop and that cannibalism is a secondary outcome of this behavior. Predatory behavior also provides tadpoles with a source of food, which is frequently limited in these microhabitats. Additional studies of the biology of tadpoles of other species of Dendrobates are needed to determine the evolution of predatory and cannibalistic behavior in the clade.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.1998.tb00372.x
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