, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 301–307

Effects of density and predation on Scaphiopus couchi tadpoles in desert ponds

  • R. A. Newman
Original Papers


The effects of density on growth and development of Scaphiopus couchi tadpoles in desert ponds were investigated, and sources of mortality over a three-year period were documented. In 16 of the 82 ponds monitored, predation was the principal cause of death, demonstrating that tadpoles in desert ponds may be exposed to high levels of predation, although the overall importance of predation is less here than in more mesic areas. Desiccation was the primary cause of mortality in 49 ponds. Growth and development were extremely slow in most high density ponds and as a result most tadpoles were unable to metamorphose before ponds dried. Only 8 ponds produced metamorphs, and mortality was high even in these. Food-supplementation resulted in some metamorphosis in high density ponds, although the effect was diminished by the extreme crowding in most ponds. In low density ponds, S. couchi tadpoles can develop very quickly and metamorphose. High mortality due to desiccation is largely a consequence of high density: tadpoles rarely completed development in high density ponds, regardless of pond duration.

Key words

Desert toads Tadpole predation Scaphiopus couchi Tadpole density 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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