Different antipredator behaviour in two anuran tadpoles: effects of predator diet
- Cite this article as:
- Laurila, A., Kujasalo, J. & Ranta, E. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1997) 40: 329. doi:10.1007/s002650050349
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Recent investigations have indicated that animals are able to use chemical cues of predators to assess the magnitude of predation risk. One possible source of such cues is predator diet. Chemical cues may also be important in the development of antipredator behaviour, especially in animals that possess chemical alarm substances. Tadpoles of the common toad (Bufo bufo) are unpalatable to most vertebrate predators and have an alarm substance. Tadpoles of the common frog (Rana temporaria) lack both these characters. We experimentally studied how predator diet, previous experience of predators and body size affect antipredator behaviour in these two tadpole species. Late-instar larvae of the dragonfly Aeshna juncea were used as predators. The dragonfly larvae were fed a diet exclusively of insects, R. temporaria tadpoles or B. bufo tadpoles. R. temporaria tadpoles modified their behaviour according to the perceived predation risk. Depending on predator diet, the tadpoles responded with weak antipredatory behaviour (triggered by insect-fed predators) or strong behaviour (triggered by tadpole-fed predators) with distinct spatial avoidance and lowered activity level. The behaviour of B. bufo in predator diet treatments was indistinguishable from that in the control treatment. This lack of antipredator behaviour is probably related to the effective post-encounter defenses and more intense competitive regime experienced by B. bufo. The behaviour of both tadpole species was dependent on body size, but this was not related to predator treatments. Our results also indicate that antipredator behaviour is largely innate in tadpoles of both species and is not modified by a brief exposure to predators.