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Ecology. 2006 Mar;87(3):556-62.

Opposite shifts in size at metamorphosis in response to larval and metamorph predators.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215, USA. vonesh@biology2.wustl.edu

Abstract

Predation risk can cause organisms to alter the timing of life history switch points. Theory suggests that increased risk in an early life stage should select for switching earlier and smaller, while increased risk in the subsequent stage should select for switching later and larger. This framework has frequently been applied to metamorphosis in amphibians, with mixed results. Few studies examining the effect of larval predation risk on metamorphosis have observed the predicted pattern, and no studies, to our knowledge, have examined the effect of increased risk during and after metamorphosis on the timing of this switch point. Here we examine the effect of larval and post-metamorphic predation risk on metamorphosis in the red-eyed treefrog, Agalychnis callidryas. We raised tadpoles in the presence or absence of cues from caged water bugs fed larvae and cues from spiders fed emerging metamorphs. Water bugs are effective larval predators, while spiders are poor larval predators but prey on metamorphs. Furthermore, since spiders forage on the water surface it is possible that tadpoles could assess future risk from this predator. Predators induced opposite shifts in life history. Tadpoles emerged smaller and less developed in response to water bugs, but later and larger in response to spiders. Interestingly, predator effects on larval duration were not independent; tadpoles delayed emerging in response to spiders, but only in the absence of water bugs.

PMID:
16602285
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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