Larval skipper frogs recognise kairomones of certain predators innately
Recognising potential predators is critical for the survival and reproduction of prey animals. However, prey animals may possess an innate ability to recognise the signature odours (kairomones) of only certain native, sympatric predators, while requiring learning to recognise others. Our observations have shown that larval skipper frogs (Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis) fail to recognise kairomones of dragonfly nymph, a common predator of amphibian tadpoles with a cosmopolitan distribution. Hence, we wanted to determine if larval skipper frogs totally lack an innate mechanism to recognise kairomones of all aquatic predators, or have an innate ability to recognise kairomones of only certain predators. In a series of experiments, we tested the antipredator response of larval skipper frogs to kairomones of dragonfly nymph (Bradinopyga geminata); walking catfish (Clarias batrachus); Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus); two species of predatory tadpoles, Indian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) and Jerdon’s bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus crassus); and the checkered keel back snake (Xenochrophis piscator). The results clearly indicate that larval skipper frogs have the innate ability to recognise kairomones of the walking catfish, both species of larval bullfrog and checkered keel back snake. However, they lack the innate ability to recognise kairomones of dragonfly nymph and Mozambique tilapia. Prey choice of the Mozambique tilapia and gape-limitation of dragonfly nymphs could be responsible for the lack of innate responses of larval skipper frogs to them. The study provides empirical evidence for the notion that prey can innately recognise certain predators.
KeywordsAntipredator response Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis Innate predator recognition Signature odour Non-native predator
This research was supported by UGC-CAS Phase III and DRDP to the Department of Zoology, Savitribai Phule Pune University. S. C. S. is grateful to Savitribai Phule Pune University for a research fellowship. We are thankful to two anonymous referees for their critical comments on the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no potential conflicts of interest.
This study was carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the Departmental Committee for Animal Ethics (in India, animals other than mammals do not come under the purview of the Institutional Committee for Animal Ethics, no. 538/CPCSEA). No animals were sacrificed during the study and all the animals used for the study were released back into nature.
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