Palatable Species of Amphibians are More Heavily Impacted by Visual and Chemical Cues of Predatory Fish

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Association of Southeastern Biologists Annual Meeting


In this study, relatively unpalatable toad larvae (Bufo terrestris) and palatable leopard frogs (Lithobates sphenocephala) were reared in 20 cm diameter PVC pipes drilled with aeration holes to allow water flow. These PVC chambers were submerged in 75 L aquaria. In half of the treatments, the chambers were white, preventing any visual cues between predators and prey. A second group of tadpoles were reared in clear chambers that permitted visual cues. Predatory bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) or largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) swam freely between the chambers. The predators were offered a diet of conspecific prey that they were paired with although toad tadpoles were rarely consumed. Control tadpoles were isolated in both clear and white PVC chambers in aquaria with no fish. The length (mm) and weight (g) of tadpoles were recorded at regular sampling invtervals throughout their developmental period. In both the non-visual and visual treatments, toad tadpoles did not statistically differ from control animals regardless of predator species. The most significant impact on prey growth was observed among leopard frog tadpoles reared in visual chambers with largemouth bass. These tadpoles were significantly smaller than control animals and suffered heavy mortality during the study. These results support the notion that prey palatability can affect the impact of visual and chemical cues of predatory fish.