, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 331-339

Interaction of pH, density, and priority effects on the survivorship and growth of two species of hylid tadpoles

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We examined the interactions of an abiotic factor (pH) and a biotic factor (density) on the survival and growth of two species of anuran larvae (Hyla gratiosa and Hyla femoralis) in outdoor tanks. Three levels of pH (4.3, 4.6, or 6.0) and three levels of density (0, 30 or 60 embryos) were arranged in a blocked design and replicated three times for Hyla gratiosa. At the end of this experiment the effects of pH (4.3, 4.6, or 6.0), density of H. femoralis (30 or 60), and prior use by H. gratiosa (at 0, 30, or 60 larvae per tank) on the survival and growth of H. femoralis, were examined. Higher density increased larval period and decreased size at metamorphosis of H. gratiosa. Lower pH decreased survival rate and also decreased size at metamorphosis. Body sodium concentrations were lowest at the low pH values. Lower pH increased the susceptibility of H. gratiosa tadpoles to the adverse effects of higher densities. For H. femoralis higher density decreased survival, increased larval period and decreased size at metamorphosis. Hyla femoralis also had lower survivorship at low pH and exhibited decreased size at metamorphosis. However, unlike the results with Hyla gratiosa, there were no interactive effects between pH and density for any of the life-history traits studied. The effect of previous colonization by H. gratiosa on H. femoralis survival was facilitative. Body sodium concentrations of H. femoralis were lowest at the highest pH value. Metamorphs of the same size had much lower levels of sodium in H. femoralis than H. gratiosa. In general, H. femoralis was less affected by pH variation than H. gratiosa. These results demonstrate that abiotic factors can interact strongly with biotic effects such as density and they suggest that interspecific interactions can be strongly modulated by the background abiotic environment.