, Volume 702, Issue 1, pp 27–43 | Cite as

Species distribution and assembly patterns of frog larvae in rainforest streams of Madagascar

  • Axel StraußEmail author
  • Roger Daniel Randrianiaina
  • Miguel Vences
  • Julian Glos
Primary Research Paper


Many tropical rainforests harbour species-rich assemblages of frogs and, consequently, of tadpoles. These larvae are often morphologically highly diverse, especially in their oral structures. Whether this might represent an important axis of ecological partitioning in frog assemblages remains an untested hypothesis. In general, it is poorly known how diverse tadpole assemblages are organised. Using information from Madagascar’s remarkably species-rich stream tadpole assemblages, we analysed the distribution and co-occurrence of 44 species. We also assessed the importance of phylogenetic history and eco-morphological adaptation for habitat selection at two functional and two spatial levels. We show that both rare and common species exist in most morphological clusters and phylogenetic groups of tadpoles. Habitat characteristics of the streams and surrounding forest influence species composition. Whereas there is a general trend in preferring wide and deep streams without a steep slope for most species, some of the morphological clusters separate along specific habitat variables. Stream choice is influenced both by phylogenetic history and morphological adaptation. Within streams, tadpoles partition microhabitat mainly according to their morphological cluster but without phylogenetic signal. Species dissimilarities of habitat selection on both spatial scales are not correlated. We found no evidence for competition in the tadpole assemblages studied.


Ranomafana National Park Tadpole Morphological cluster Species–habitat association Habitat choice Community Anura 



We are grateful to S. Ndriantsoa, E. Rajeriarison, T. Rajoafiarison, H. Rasolonjatovo, D. Razafindrabe, E. Reeve, and J. Solo for their contribution to fieldwork. Logistic support was provided by ValBio, MICET/ICTE, and Madagascar National Parks. Molecular identification of tadpoles was carried out with help in the lab by G. Keunecke, S. Janssen, M. Kondermann, and E. Saxinger. This study was carried out in the framework of a cooperation accord between the Département de Biologie Animale of the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar and the Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany. The Malagasy authorities kindly issued research and export permits. Financial support was granted by the Volkswagen Foundation to MV and RDR, by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant VE247/2-1) to MV, AS, and JG, and by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst to RDR.

Supplementary material

10750_2012_1301_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (76 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 77 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (157 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 157 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (102 kb)
Online Resource 3 Timetree depicting phylogenetic relationships and ages of divergence among species of mantellid frogs of which tadpoles were included in the analysis. Derived from the molecular tree of Wollenberg et al. (2011), based on three mitochondrial gene fragments (16S rRNA, cytochrome b, cytochdrome oxidase subunit I), with all taxa pruned that were not included in the analysis herein. Species depicted in grey and with dotted branches were not included by Wollenberg et al. (2011) and were manually added to the tree according to their phylogenetic position in the tree of Vieites et al. (2009) based on a 16S rRNA gene fragment only; note that branch lengths for those species are not to scale and thus not proportional to time (PDF 102 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (244 kb)
Online Resource 4 Incidence values for all species of tadpoles found in the wet seasons 2007 and 2008 in Ranomafana National Park. Data are based on 29 streams that we sampled in both years; species are sorted according to their incidence in 2007 (PDF 244 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (270 kb)
Online Resource 5 Frequency of incidence values of tadpoles in Ranomafana National Park. Each data point is coloured according to its eco-morphological guild. Data are based on the 29 repeatedly sampled streams, averaged, and rounded to the next full number (PDF 271 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (262 kb)
Online Resource 6 Frequency of abundance values of tadpoles in Ranomafana National Park. Abundance data were grouped in steps of 5. Each data point is coloured according to its eco-morphological guild. Data are based on the 29 repeatedly sampled streams, and averaged (PDF 263 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM7_ESM.pdf (178 kb)
Online Resource 7 Abundance of all species of tadpoles sampled in the wet seasons 2007 and 2008 in Ranomafana National Park. Data are based on 29 streams that we sampled in both years; species are sorted according to their abundance in 2007 (PDF 179 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM8_ESM.pdf (176 kb)
Online Resource 8 Cluster dendrogramm showing co-occurrence of tadpoles based on incidence data of the 19 species that were sampled in at least 7 streams in Ranomafana National Park. Grey background boxes indicate clusters, from dark to light grey showing 2, 4, and 6 cluster (PDF 176 kb)
10750_2012_1301_MOESM9_ESM.pdf (122 kb)
Supplementary material 9 (PDF 123 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Axel Strauß
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Roger Daniel Randrianiaina
    • 1
    • 3
  • Miguel Vences
    • 1
  • Julian Glos
    • 4
  1. 1.Zoologisches InstitutTechnische Universität BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Genetik Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMartinsriedGermany
  3. 3.Département de Biologie AnimaleUniversité d’AntananarivoAntananarivoMadagascar
  4. 4.Zoological InstituteUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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