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Feeding relationships between sympatric Afrotropical tree frogs (genus Hyperolius): The effects of predator body size and season

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image of Animal Biology

The feeding relationships of four sympatric, ecologically nearly unknown, tree frogs of southern Nigeria (Hyperolius sylvaticus, H. guttulatus, H. fusciventris burtoni, and H. concolor) were studied during both the dry and the rainy seasons. Stomach contents were obtained by stomach flushing. The largest species were H. guttulatus and H. concolor, whereas the other two species were of smaller average size. A statistically significant sexual size dimorphism was observed in H. guttulatus, H. concolor, and H. sylvaticus (in all species the females were larger), but not in H. fusciventris. In all four species, the frequency of animals with empty stomachs was significantly lower during the rainy season than during the dry season. The four frog species were mainly arthropodeating: Araneidae and Blattoidea were preyed upon mainly by the two largest species, Acarina and Lepidoptera were taken mainly by the two smaller species, and Diptera and Formicoidea were eaten frequently by all species. The diet composition was similar between seasons in three of the four species, and H. guttulatus was the only species showing considerable diet variation between seasons. We concluded that 1) the intensity of interspecific competition should be particularly high between the two larger species on the one hand, and between the two smaller species on the other hand; and 2) the intensity of the interspecific competition should be relatively constant throughout the year.


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