Evol Ecol Res 4: 627-642 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Burst swim speed in tadpoles inhabiting ponds with different top predators

Jean M.L. Richardson*

Department of Biological Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA

Address all correspondence to Jean Richardson, Department of Zoology, University of Toronto, 25 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G5, Canada.
e-mail: jmlr@zoo.utoronto.ca


Selection is likely to favour anti-predator strategies that are effective against predators encountered frequently. Larval anuran communities fall along a gradient of pond permanency and pond permanency also affects the type of top predator present. These environmental factors combine to create distinct categories of pond types. In this study, I quantified the predator avoidance trait burst swim speed and related traits for 14 anuran species found in three pond types and within three taxonomic families. Absolute swim speed differed significantly among species and among taxonomic families. Inclusion of size in the model revealed a three-way interaction between size, habitat and taxonomic family. Tail beat frequency and body shape differed significantly among species, but with no pattern by family or habitat. Functional relationships among traits also did not differ among family by habitat groups. The evolution of swim speed was significantly correlated with the evolution of increased size. In general, these results suggest that anurans have invaded new pond types using multiple mechanisms to cope with the predators that are present.

Keywords: anti-predator traits, anurans, burst swim speed, community ecology, comparative study, evolutionary correlations, functional relationships, tadpoles.

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