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Keywords:

  • tadpoles;
  • aggregation;
  • competition;
  • activity;
  • growth

Abstract

Tadpoles of different species of frogs and toads display different tendencies to aggregate. We investigated some of the costs and benefits of aggregating in three British species by examining their behavioural responses to the presence of conspecifics, and by monitoring the performance of tadpoles under different levels of social interaction with other individuals. The common toad (Bufo bufo), an aggregating species, displayed higher levels of activity than the natterjack toad (B. calamita) and common frog (Rana temporaria), two species that form aggregations less frequently. Moreover, out of the three species, only B. bufo increased activity in the presence of conspecifics. In all three species, increased interaction between individuals resulted in increased variation in size. However, average growth rate was affected only in B. bufo, which grew faster when raised in isolation and not interacting with other individuals. Under certain conditions intraspecific competition therefore seems to be more important than social facilitation, but may lead to average size at metamorphosis being larger within the population. The consequences of intraspecific competition within aggregations may therefore be different for individuals and populations.