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Aggregation behaviour in a neotropical dendrobatid frog (Allobates talamancae) in western Panama

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Aggregation is a common behaviour in a number of animal taxa and is used for a variety of purposes. For example, aggregation may be a response to environmental resources, sexual reproductive behaviour or an antipredator response. Although commonly recognized in a variety of taxa, amongst amphibians aggregation has rarely been reported in adult poison dart frogs (family Dendrobatidae). The Talamanca striped rocket frog (Allobates talamancae) is a small, non-toxic leaf-litter dendrobatid frog found in the Bocas del Toro archipelago of western Panama. The purpose of our study was to describe the dispersion pattern of Allobates talamancae and elucidate a possible explanation for this pattern. Based on observations of grouping behaviour in captive frogs, we hypothesized that A. talamancae significantly aggregate in natural habitats. We conducted a series of field-based experiments that indicate that this species does significantly aggregate in the wild. Preliminary results suggest that aggregation may be an adaptive response to predation risk. We discuss this possibility, as well as critique other explanations for aggregation in this species, placing these results in the broader theoretical context of aggregation as an adaptive behaviour in animals.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA, Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC), Gainesville, FL, USA;, Email: gareth.hopkins@usu.edu; 2: Department of Biology and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA, Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC), Gainesville, FL, USA

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