Evaluating predation pressure on green treefrog larvae across a habitat gradient
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- Gunzburger, M.S. & Travis, J. Oecologia (2004) 140: 422. doi:10.1007/s00442-004-1610-7
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The effect of a predator on the abundance of a prey species depends upon the predator’s abundance and its ability to capture that prey. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the community structure of predators of green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) tadpoles across habitat types and evaluate the effectiveness of individual predators on H. cinerea tadpoles. Correspondence and cluster analyses of predator frequencies across 23 aquatic habitats indicated that the majority of variance in predator communities was due to a division between permanent and temporary habitats. Experimental work demonstrated that survival of the smallest H. cinerea tadpoles was significantly lower than survival of medium and large tadpoles with the most effective predators, indicating that H. cinerea tadpoles attain a refuge from predation at larger body sizes. We combined the effectiveness of predators in experiments with the abundance of each predator species from the predator community survey to demonstrate that predation pressure on H. cinerea tadpoles is higher in temporary ponds. This pattern may explain in part why this species generally breeds successfully only in permanent habitats. It also confirms that discussions about an increasing gradient of predation pressure from temporary to permanent aquatic habitats should be restricted to individual prey species for which such a gradient has been demonstrated.