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Behavioral Responses of Amphibian Larvae to Variation in Dissolved Oxygen

Richard J. Wassersug and Edwin A. Seibert
Copeia
Vol. 1975, No. 1 (Feb. 28, 1975), pp. 86-103
DOI: 10.2307/1442410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1442410
Page Count: 18
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Abstract

The behavioral responses of Rana pipiens, Pseudacris triseriata, Bufo woodhousii, Scaphiopus bombifrons and Ambystoma tigrinum larvae to varying concentrations of dissolved oxygen (DO) are described. Bobbing (swimming to the surface for air) rates for three or more developmental stages were measured for the five species. Most stages of R. pipiens, P. triseriata and B. woodhousii larvae show little or no correlation of bobbing rate with DO concentration until the DO concentration drops below a critical level. Below that level bobbing rates show a significant, negative, linear correlation with DO concentrations. This behavior is consistent with a physiological mechanism for the differential use of potential respiratory surfaces. Metamorphosing R. pipiens, early stages of A. tigrinum and all stages of S. bombifrons have a continuous, significant, negative linear correlation of DO concentration against bobbing rates. The behavioral differences that we report for the five species, including ontogenetic differences, can be explained by differences in the state of lung development. The bobbing postures and patterns are consistent with our present understanding of the ecological tolerances of the five species. Buccal pumping rates were measured for three stages of Rana pipiens and two stages of Scaphiopus bombifrons tadpoles. With one exception (stage 41 R. pipiens) pumping rates did not appear to correlate strongly with DO concentrations. Variations in tadpole pumping rates are evidently more related to feeding than to respiration.

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