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The effect of hunger on the strength and duration of the antipredator behavioral response of green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles

Abstract

The activity level of prey reflects a trade-off between predation risk and foraging gain. A number of theoretical and empirical studies have shown that a prey's energetic state or the level of its resource should influence this trade-off (i.e., what the optimal activity level at a level of predation risk is). Here, I show that the energetic state of prey may also influence the duration of their antipredator behavioral response. Green frog tadpoles (Rana clamitans) reduced their activity level for a shorter time during exposure to the chemical cue of predatory larval dragonflies (Anax spp.) as their time since last feeding increased (i.e., as their energetic state decreased). Interestingly, the tadpoles strongly reduced their activity level upon cue exposure in all treatments. Thus, the relative activity level of tadpoles at different energetic states varied over time.

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Acknowledgements

I thank Jon Falk for helping to maintain the tadpole cultures and set up the experiments, Scott Peacor for lending his screened containers, and Earl Werner and two anonymous reviewers for providing numerous suggestions that improved this manuscript. This research was funded through a University of Michigan Block Grant, an ESGR Scholarship, and National Science Foundation grant DEB-0089809 to Earl Werner and Scott Peacor. All works were approved by the University of Michigan's University Committee on Animal Care and Use. All works comply with the current laws of the United States of America.

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Correspondence to Michael E. Fraker.

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Communicated by J. Christensen-Dalsgaard

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Fraker, M.E. The effect of hunger on the strength and duration of the antipredator behavioral response of green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62, 1201–1205 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-008-0549-9

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Keywords

  • Activity level
  • Chemical cue
  • Energetic state
  • Predation risk assessment