The ontogeny of kin recognition in tadpoles of the toadBufo melanostictus (Anura; Bufonidae)
The ontogeny of kin recognition and influence of social environment on the development of kin recognition behaviour was experimentally investigated in tadpoles of Bufo melanostictus that lived in aggregations and showed low larval dispersion. Embryos and tadpoles of the toad were reared as (i) kin only, (ii) with kin and non-kin (separated by a mesh screen), and (iii) in isolation. They were tested for the ability to discriminate between (i) familiar siblings and unfamiliar non-siblings, (ii) familiar siblings and familiar non-siblings and, (iii) unfamiliar siblings and unfamiliar non-siblings. All tadpoles were fed on boiled spinach before conducting trials. Preference of test tadpoles to associate near the end compartments whether empty or containing members of specific stimulus groups was assessed using a rectangular choice tank. When tested in tanks with empty end compartments, the test tadpoles showed random distribution and thus no bias for the apparatus or the procedure. In the presence of kin/non-kin in the end compartments a significantly greater number of test tadpoles spent the majority of the time near familiar or unfamiliar kin rather than near familiar or unfamiliar non-kin. Kin discrimination ability persisted throughout larval development. Familiarity with siblings is not required for discriminating kin from non-kin, and kin discrimination ability is not modified following exposure to non-kin. Also, involvement of dietary cues is unlikely to be the prime mechanism of kin recognition inB. melanostictus unlike in some other anurans.
KeywordsBufo melanostictus kin recognition tadpoles toad
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