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The relationships between toad behaviour, antipredator defences, and spatial and sexual variation in predation pressure



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Zamora-Camacho, Francisco Javier (2022) The relationships between toad behaviour, antipredator defences, and spatial and sexual variation in predation pressure. PeerJ – the Journal of Life & Environmental Sciences, 10 . pp. 1-20. ISSN ISSN 2167-8359 (Online)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.12985


Background: Animal behaviour is under strong selection. Selection on behaviour, however, might not act in isolation from other fitness-related traits. Since predators represent outstanding selective forces, animal behaviour could covary with antipredator defences, such that individuals better suited against predators could afford facing the costs of riskier behaviours. Moreover, not all individuals undergo equivalent degrees of predation pressure, which can vary across sexes or habitats. Individuals under lower predation pressure might also exhibit riskier behaviours.
Methods: In this work, I tested these hypotheses on natterjack toads (Epidalea calamita). Specifically, I gauged activity time, exploratory behaviour and boldness in standard laboratory conditions, and assessed whether they correlated with body size and antipredator strategies, namely sprint speed, parotoid gland area and parotoid gland colour contrast. Additionally, I compared these traits between sexes and individuals from an agrosystem and pine grove, since there is evidence that males and agrosystem individuals are subjected to greater predation pressure.
Results: Sprint speed as well as parotoid gland contrast and size appeared unrelated to the behavioural traits studied. In turn, body mass was negatively related to activity time, boldness and exploration. This trend is consistent with the fact that larger toads could be more detectable to their predators, which are mostly gape unconstrained and could easily consume them. As predicted, females exhibited riskier behaviours. Nonetheless, agrosystem toads did not differ from pine grove toads in the behavioural traits measured, despite being under stronger predation pressure.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Activity time; Aposematism; Chemical defences; Epidalea calamita; Exploratory behaviour; Locomotor performance
Subjects:Medical sciences > Biology > Amphibians
Medical sciences > Biology > Ecology
ID Code:73500
Deposited On:07 Jul 2022 11:43
Last Modified:07 Jul 2022 12:37

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