, Volume 159, Issue 2, pp 455-461
Date: 06 Nov 2008

Influence of sprint speed and body size on predator avoidance in New Mexican spadefoot toads (Spea multiplicata)

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Abstract

Predator–prey interactions play an important role in community dynamics and may be important for promoting genetic diversification. Diversification may be especially important when prey species have multiple anti-predator strategies available, but these strategies conflict with each other. For example, rapid sprint speed and large size are both thought to decrease vulnerability to many predators. A physiological trade-off between swimming speed and growth rate has been documented in many aquatic species and, as a result, individual genotypes may employ one strategy or the other, but not both. Although rapid sprint speed is often assumed to decrease vulnerability to predators, this has only rarely been tested. Here I provide evidence that both rapid sprint speed and large size in tadpoles of the New Mexico spadefoot toad (Spea multiplicata) decreases predation risk from carnivore morphs of its congener the Great Plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons). Such conflicts, coupled with spatio-temporal variation in predation pressure, may be important in maintaining genetic variation for trade-offs.

Communicated by Ross Alford.