Mechanism of predator–prey detection and behavioral responses in some anuran tadpoles
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Saidapur, S.K., Veeranagoudar, D.K., Hiragond, N.C. et al. Chemoecology (2009) 19: 21. doi:10.1007/s00049-009-0004-z
- 221 Downloads
Predator–prey relationship was studied in three sympatric species of anuran tadpoles. The study design consisted of allowing predaceous Hoplobatrachus tigerinus tadpoles to devour prey tadpoles (Sphaerotheca breviceps and Bufo melanostictus) placed in a plastic tub (five tadpoles of each species, stage ~27) in 30 min. In trials without refugia, more tadpoles of Bufo fell prey compared to Sphaerotheca. In contrast, provision of refugia using hydrilla plant reversed predation risk of the two species. The swimming speed (Vmax = 64.55 ± 1.45 cm/s) of Hoplobatrachus tadpoles was much higher compared to the prey species (Bufo: 3.6 ± 0.4 cm/s; Sphaerotheca: 27.6 ± 1.6 cm/s). Poor swimming ability may account for the observed vulnerability of the Bufo tadpoles to predation especially in clear waters; refugia overcame predation to some extent. On the other hand, Sphaerotheca tadpoles that swim faster than the toad tadpoles were less vulnerable in open areas; refugia actually hindered swimming and increased predation. Experiments with association choice tests show that predaceous tadpoles detect prey based on both visual and chemical cues. On the other hand, the prey tadpoles detected predator based exclusively on chemical rather than visual cues. The antipredator defense strategy of the toad tadpoles is manifested in the form of reduced movements, remaining still for longer times and, increased burst speed. The present findings also suggest that in both prey species predator detection has a genetic basis since naive tadpoles with no prior exposure to predators exhibit fright response on first encounter with them.