Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 393–401 | Cite as

Effects of predation risk and hunger on the behaviour of two species of tadpoles

  • Peter Horat
  • Raymond D. Semlitsch


Predation and hunger are threats for most organisms, and appropriate behavioural responses to both factors should be shaped by natural selection. In combination, however, the behavioural demands of predation avoidance and effective foraging often cannot be satisfied at the same time and lead to a conflict within organisms. We examined the behavioural responses of two closely-related species of tadpoles, Rana lessonae and R. esculenta, to simulated predation by fish and hunger. Tadpoles, hatched and reared in the laboratory, were tested in a three-way factorial (predation risk × hunger × species) experiment with four predation levels and four hunger levels. Both species decreased their swimming activity with increasing predation risk. Predation risk did not influence the amount of activity time invested in feeding but caused the tadpoles to spend less time in patches with food. Refuges were not used to avoid predation. R. esculenta was more sensitive to predation risk than R. lessonae. Hunger increased both the activity of tadpoles and the amount of activity time invested in feeding, thus indicating an increased energy intake. No interactions were observed between predation risk and hunger. These results show that tadpoles possess genetically-based behavioural mechanisms that allow them to respond in a graded manner to predation and hunger. However, they did not balance the two conflicting demands of predation avoidance and effective foraging; the two mechanisms appeared to act independently.

Key words

Amphibian Feeding Predation risk Predator avoidance 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Horat
    • 1
  • Raymond D. Semlitsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyUniversity of ZurichZürichSwitzerland

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