Invasive tadpoles can recognize potential predators in new environments

phys.org | 10/23/2018 | Staff
Mireille (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://scx2.b-cdn.net/gfx/news/2019/invasivetadp.jpg

Invasive species have become an increasingly big threat to indigenous ones as the spread of alien animals and plants has accelerated with the growth of global trade. Some can be very destructive, while some live in close proximity without posing any sort of threat.

Understanding the behavior of invasive species can provide clues on how to manage them, particularly in situations in which they threaten to wipe out indigenous species.

Research - Light - Species - Predators - Environment

In my research we set out to shed light on how invasive species co-evolve—or don't—with predators in their new environment. This is an interesting question because invasive species don't have the advantage of having developed anti-predator mechanisms in their native environment over thousands of years.

To survive, invasive species must be able to identify potential predators.

Species - Water - Survival - Mechanisms - Example

Species that live in water have developed particular survival mechanisms. For example, smell really matters because predators release signature odors. This means that it's essential for aquatic prey to detect predators so that they take evasive action. Several defenses are possible, such as hiding or avoiding particular areas or reducing their activity.

In our study, we looked at the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis. Though it is indigenous to South Africa it has become a globally invasive amphibian, successfully establishing populations on four continents: Asia, Europe, North and South America. In western France, African clawed frogs have dispersed over five departments (a word used to describe a certain level of government in the country) since the 1980s.

African - Tadpoles - France - Ways - Predators

We tested whether the African clawed frog tadpoles in France had developed ways to protect themselves against local predators. We measured their reactions to three species: an invasive crayfish species, a native diving beetle species, and a non-predator snail as a control.

We found that the tadpoles did indeed take action to avoid detection. Our results show that invasive tadpoles express anti-predator behavior to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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