Extracts of the invasive shrub Lonicera maackii increase mortality and alter behavior of amphibian larvae
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- Watling, J.I., Hickman, C.R., Lee, E. et al. Oecologia (2011) 165: 153. doi:10.1007/s00442-010-1777-z
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Water-soluble phytochemicals produced by invasive plants may represent novel elements of invaded ecosystems that can precipitate a variety of direct and indirect effects on native organisms. Phenolic compounds in particular are a common plant defense, and these compounds may have disproportionate impacts on amphibians compared to other taxa. We coupled an exploration of invasive plant extract effects on larvae of four amphibian species (the salamander Ambystoma maculatum, the toad Anaxyrus americanus, and the frogs Hyla sp. and Lithobates blairi) with behavioral observations designed to determine whether behavior can ameliorate the negative effects of exposure to invasive plant extracts. Larvae were reared in extracts of the widespread invasive Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), mixed native leaf litter, and a water control. Anaxyrus americanus tadpoles reared in L. maackii extracts were more likely to die than tadpoles reared in native extracts, but differences in mortality following rearing in native and exotic extracts were not significant for the other three species. Anaxyrus americanus and L. blairi tadpoles made more trips to the surface in L. maackii extracts than in native extracts, consistent with the hypothesis that exotic extracts may interfere with respiratory physiology and suggesting that L. blairi can behaviorally ameliorate the negative effects of L. maackii extracts. Our study highlights both a direct and indirect pathway by which invasive plant extracts may alter the ecological dynamics of native fauna.