TitleShifts in life history as a response to predation in western toads (Bufo boreas)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsChivers, DP, Kiesecker, JM, Marco, A, Wildy, EL, Blaustein, AR
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Larval western toads (Bufo boreas) are known to exhibit antipredator behavior in response to both chemical alarm cues released from injured conspecifics and chemical cues of predatory invertebrates. In this study, we tested whether long-term exposure to predator and alarm cues resulted in an adaptive shift in life history characteristics of the toads. We raised groups of tadpoles in the presence of: (I)predatory backswimmers (Notonecta spp.) that were fed toad tadpoles, (2) nonpredatory water boatman (Corixidae), and (3) chemical alarm cues of injured conspecifics. Tadpoles raised in the presence of both chemical alarm cues and cues of predators fed tadpoles metamorphosed in significantly shorter time than those raised in the presence of the nonpredator control. Reducing time taken to reach metamorphosis would reduce exposure to aquatic predators. There was no difference among treatments in the size at metamorphosis. Our results suggest that this shift in metamorphic characteristics may represent a facultative alteration in life history.

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