Waterborne Amitrole Affects the Predator–Prey Relationship Between Common Frog Tadpoles (Rana temporaria) and Larval Spotted Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)



Within their aquatic habitats, larval amphibians are often subjected to multiple natural and anthropic stressors. Among these, predation and waterborne pollution represent two types of stressing factor that frequently co-occur. In this connection, the present laboratory study was designed to investigate the effects of amitrole, a commonly used triazole herbicide, on the predator–prey relationship between common frog tadpoles (Rana temporaria) and larval spotted salamander (Salamandra salamandra). Tadpoles were exposed for 3 days to 0, 0.01, 0.1, 1, and 10 mg/L amitrole, either in the absence or in the presence of larval salamanders. Tadpole behavior (refuge use, movements) was monitored every day, and the predation efficiency was assessed at the end of the experiment by counting the number of surviving tadpoles. In the absence of the predator, amitrole-exposed tadpoles (at 0.01, 0.1, and 1 mg/L) increased their refuge use and decreased their rate of movements. In the presence of the predator, amitrole contamination did not affect tadpole behavior, except on the first day, where tadpoles exposed to 10 mg/L were found to be significantly more active than unexposed control tadpoles. Throughout the experiment, control tadpoles were the only group to show significant reductions of activity and visibility in response to the predator’s presence. In contrast, tadpoles exposed to 0.01 and 0.1 mg/L amitrole increased their refuge use in response to the predator, whereas their rate of movements remained unaffected. Furthermore, exposures of tadpoles to the two highest amitrole concentrations (1 and 10 mg/L) resulted in the loss of both behavioral responses to the predator’s presence. Interestingly, the lack of antipredator behavior in amitrole-exposed tadpoles did not enhance their vulnerability to predation by the larval salamander. Moreover, tadpoles exposed to the two highest herbicide concentrations showed a better survival than unexposed controls, indicating that amitrole contamination also had detrimental effects on the predatory behavior of the larval salamander. These findings emphasize the need to consider the effects of contaminants on both predator and prey before drawing conclusions about the possible consequences of prey behavioral modifications on the predation risk.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Ecologie Aquatique, Unité Mixte de Recherche Ecobiologie et Qualité des Hydrosystèmes ContinentauxInstitut National de la Recherche AgronomiqueRennes cedexFrance

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