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Predation risk assessment by green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles through chemical cues produced by multiple prey

Abstract

Many prey assess predation risk through predator chemical cues. Numerous studies have shown that (1) prey sometimes respond to chemical cues produced by heterospecifics and (2) that many species are capable of associative learning. This study extends this research by focusing on predation risk assessment and antipredator behavior in environments containing chemical cues produced by multiple prey species. The results show that green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles (1) assess risk from the chemical cue produced during predation by a heterospecific (gray tree frog, Hyla versicolor, tadpoles) and (2) can exhibit similarly strong behavioral responses to a mix of conspecific and heterospecific cues compared to conspecific cue alone, depending on their conditioning environment. I then discuss how the prey choice of the predators and the relative abundances of the prey species should influence the informational value of heterospecific cues.

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Acknowledgments

I thank Sarah Seiter for providing gray tree frog tadpoles. The Werner lab provided comments and discussion that improved this manuscript. Three anonymous reviewers also made comments that improved this manuscript. All work was approved by the University of Michigan's University Committee on the Use and Care of Animals (permit 7765). Funding was provided by National Science Foundation grant DEB-0089809 to Earl E. Werner and Scott D. Peacor. All work complies 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. Predation risk assessment by green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles through chemical cues produced by multiple prey. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63, 1397–1402 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-009-0822-6

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Keywords

  • Activity level
  • Antipredator behavior
  • Anuran
  • Associative learning
  • Chemical cue