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PeerJ. 2017 Nov 10;5:e4039. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4039. eCollection 2017.

Overland movement in African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis): empirical dispersal data from within their native range.

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Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany & Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.


Dispersal forms are an important component of the ecology of many animals, and reach particular importance for predicting ranges of invasive species. African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) move overland between water bodies, but all empirical studies are from invasive populations with none from their native southern Africa. Here we report on incidents of overland movement found through a capture-recapture study carried out over a three year period in Overstrand, South Africa. The maximum distance moved was 2.4 km with most of the 91 animals, representing 5% of the population, moving ∼150 m. We found no differences in distances moved by males and females, despite the former being smaller. Fewer males moved overland, but this was no different from the sex bias found in the population. In laboratory performance trials, we found that males outperformed females, in both distance moved and time to exhaustion, when corrected for size. Overland movement occurred throughout the year, but reached peaks in spring and early summer when temporary water bodies were drying. Despite permanent impoundments being located within the study area, we found no evidence for migrations of animals between temporary and permanent water bodies. Our study provides the first dispersal kernel for X. laevis and suggests that it is similar to many non-pipid anurans with respect to dispersal.


Aquatic; Clawed frogs; Dispersal; Locomotion; Migration; Performance; Pipidae; Stamina; Terrestrial

Conflict of interest statement

John Measey is an Academic Editor for PeerJ. The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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