• Characterizing the impact of multiple potential enemies (predators and parasites) on the behaviour of ranid tadpoles

      Szuroczki, Dorina; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2010-10-26)
      In order to fully understand an organism's behaviours the interactions between multiple enemies or selective pressures need to be considered, as these interactions are usually far more complex than the simple addition of their effects in isolation. In this thesis, I consider the impact of multiple enemies (fish predators and parasites) on the behaviour of three larval anurans (Lithobates sylvaticus, L. clamitans and L. catesbeianus). I also determine whether species that differ in life-histories and habitat preferences possess different antipredator mechanisms and how this affects species responses to multiple enemies. I show that the three Ranid larvae respond differently to the trade-off imposed by the presence of both fish predators and trematode parasites within the environment. The two more permanent pond breeders (L. clamitans and L. catesbeianus) increased activity when in the combined presence of predators and parasites. In contrast, the temporary pond breeder (L. sylvaticus) decreased activity in the combined presence of predator and parasites, in the same manner as they responded to fish alone. Further, the presence of fish along with parasites increased the susceptibility of both L. sylvaticus and L. clamitans to trematode infection, whereas parasite infection in L. catesbeianus was unaffected by the presence of fish. A second experiment to assess palatability of the three anuran species to fish, revealed a range of palatabilities, with L. catesbeianus being least palatable, L. clamitans being somewhat unpalatable, and L. sylvaticus being highly palatable. This result helps to explain the species differences in tthe observed behaviour to the combined presence of fish and parasites. In conclusion, the results from this study highlight the importance of considering multiple selective pressures faced by organisms and how this shapes their behaviour.