Effects of Sibship and the Presence of Multiple Predators on the Behavior of Green Frog (Rana clamitans) Tadpoles


Geoffrey R. Smith, Department of Biology, Denison University, Granville, OH 43023, USA.
E-mail: smithg@denison.edu


In nature, prey are exposed to multiple predators simultaneously. We examined the effects of the cues of two potential predators, mosquitofish and odonate larvae, individually and in combination on the behavior of green frog (Rana clamitans) tadpoles. In addition to examining the behavioral response of green frog tadpoles to multiple predators, we examined variation in behavior among tadpoles from different egg masses (i.e. different sibships). Sibships differed in activity level and there was a significant predator cue by sibship interaction. Two sibships were relatively more active in the control and odonate predator cue treatments but showed reduced activity in treatments containing mosquitofish cues, whereas the remaining sibships showed consistently low levels of activity in all predator cue treatments, including the control. The use of the vegetated side of the aquarium did not differ between tadpoles exposed to the different predator cues. Sibship had no effect on tadpoles’ use of the vegetated side of the aquarium, and there was no interaction between sibship and predator cue. Our results suggest that green frogs did not respond to simultaneous exposure to multiple predator cues any differently than they did to exposure to individual predator cues. More importantly, our results suggest variation, possibly genetically based, in behavioral responses of tadpoles to predators, and thus selection on these behaviors is possible. Of particular interest is that there was variation in behavioral responses to a non-native predator (Gambusia affinis), suggesting an evolutionary response to an invasive predator is possible.