• The efficacy of anti-predator behaviour in the wood fog tadpole (Rana sylvatica) /

      Kerling, Candice L.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2007-06-04)
      Activity has been suggested as an important behaviour that is tightly linked with predator avoidance in tadpoles. In this thesis I examine predator-prey relationships using wood frog tadpoles {Rana sylvaticd) as prey and dragonfly larvae {AnaxJunius) and backswimmers {Notonecta undulatd) as predators. I explore the role of prey activity in predator attack rates, prey response to single and multiple predator introductions, and prey survivorship. The data suggest that Anax is the more successful predator, able to capture both active and inactive tadpoles. In contrast, Notonecta strike at inactive prey less frequently and are seldom successftil when they do. A mesocosm study revealed that the presence of any predator resulted in reduced activity level of tadpoles. Each predator species alone had similar effects on tadpole activity, as did the combined predator treatment. Tadpole survivorship, however, differed significantly among both predator treatments and prey populations. Tadpwles in the combined predator treatment had enhanced risk; survivorship was lower than that expected if the two predators had additive effects. Differences in survivorship among wood frog populations showed that tadpoles from a lake habitat had the lowest survivorship, those from a shallow pond habitat had an intermediate survivorship, and tadpoles from a marsh habitat had the highest survivorship. The frequency of interactions with predators in the native habitat may be driving the population differences observed. In conclusion, results from this study show that complex interactions exist between predators, prey, and the environment, with activity playing a key role in the survival of tadpoles.