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Influence of desiccation, predatory cues, and density on metamorphic traits of the bronze frog Hylarana temporalis

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We conducted an experiment to understand the influence of ecological factors (desiccation, predation threat and density) on two major metamorphic traits, larval period and size at metamorphosis, in the Indian bronze frog, Hylarana temporalis. Tadpoles were reared in groups of 15 (low), 30 (medium) and 60 (high) densities. We created the threat of desiccation by removing 0.5 l water at 10 days intervals until the water quantity reached 0.5 l. Caged dragonfly larvae (Pantala flavescens) provided the predation threat. Results show that each ecological factor independently influenced metamorphic traits but not in an interactive way. Under desiccation threat the tadpoles metamorphosed earlier and at smaller sizes compared to those reared in constant water (at corresponding densities) regardless of presence/absence of predator. In contrast, under predation threat, tadpoles metamorphosed early and at a bigger size than those reared without predator regardless of density of rearing, and desiccation threat. Alternatively, an increase in density of rearing delayed metamorphosis with smaller metamorphic size in constant water and also under threat of desiccation regardless of whether predation threat existed or not. Thus, our study revealed that H. temporalis tadpoles can modify their response to each ecological factor regardless of what other factors operate simultaneously; the threat of desiccation shortens larval period at the cost of growth. Whereas, predator pressure shortens larval period along with increased growth; while greater density increases larval period and slows down growth in H. temporalis.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Zoology, Karnatak University, Dharwad-580 003, Karnataka, India; 2: 2Department of Marine Biology, Karnatak University Post-Graduate Centre, Kodibag, Karwar-581 303, Karnataka, India


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