Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1533–1541 | Cite as

Can the introduction of Xenopus laevis affect native amphibian populations? Reduction of reproductive occurrence in presence of the invasive species

  • Francesco Lillo
  • Francesco Paolo Faraone
  • Mario Lo Valvo
Original Paper

Abstract

Biological invasions are regarded as a form of global change and potential cause of biodiversity loss. Xenopus laevis is an anuran amphibian native to sub-Saharan Africa with strong invasive capacity, especially in geographic regions with a Mediterranean climate. In spite of the worldwide diffusion of X. laevis, the effective impact on local ecosystems and native amphibian populations is poorly quantified. A large population of X. laevis occurs in Sicily and our main aim of this work was to assess the consequences of introduction of this alien species on local amphibian populations. In this study we compare the occurrence of reproduction of native amphibians in ponds with and without X. laevis, and before and after the alien colonization. The results of our study shows that, when X. laevis establishes a conspicuous population in a pond system, the populations of Discoglossus pictus, Hyla intermedia and Pelophylax synklepton esculentus show clear signs of distress and the occurrence of reproduction of these native amphibians collapses. In contrast, the populations of Bufo bufo do not appear to be affected by the alien species. Since the Sicilian population of X. laevis shows a strong dispersal capacity, proportionate and quick interventions become necessary to bound the detriment to the Sicilian amphibians populations.

Keywords

Xenopus laevis Alien invasive species Sicily Amphibians conservation Biological invasion 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank to three anonymous referees who contributed helpful comments that strengthened considerably the final version of the manuscript. Special thanks go to all the students and trainees who contributed to the field data collection. We are grateful to all farmers who permitted the scientific activity in private lands and ponds. We thank John J. Borg and Fabrizio Li Vigni for the language revision. This study was financially supported by “MIUR Ex 60% 2007”. The legal permission for this study were allowed by the “Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare—Direzione Protezione Natura (Prot. DPN-2007-0014605 of 25 May 2007)”.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Lillo
    • 1
  • Francesco Paolo Faraone
    • 1
  • Mario Lo Valvo
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale “G. Reverberi”Università di PalermoPalermoItaly

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