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Pond Drying, Predators, and the Distribution of Pseudacris Tadpoles
David K. Skelly
Vol. 1996, No. 3 (Aug. 1, 1996), pp. 599-605
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1447523
Page Count: 7
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Twenty-two natural ponds in southeastern Michigan were monitored to determine the distribution of two species of tadpoles, the spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) and the striped chorus frog (P. triseriata), with respect to pond drying and predation. These species breed in ponds ranging from those that dry each summer to those that are permanent on the order of decades. Among nonpermanent ponds, the timing of pond drying varies among years; and particularly in dry years, many ponds dry before larvae reach metamorphosis. More permanent ponds have higher densities of tadpole predators, and predators are larger in body size. Predator taxonomic composition also changed markedly over the permanence gradient. More permanment ponds contained several taxa (e.g., salamanders, fishes) known to have pronounced effects on tadpole survivorship. Pseudacris triseriata and P. crucifer larvae co-occurred in most ponds. There was, however, large variation in relative abundance: P. triseriata larvae were totally absent from permanent ponds and were most abundant relative to P. crucifer in the most temporary ponds. Pseudacris triseriata larvae grew faster and reached metamorphosis sooner than P. crucifer. Relative density measurements over the course of the larval period suggest that P. crucifer survived better than P. triseriata prior to metamorphosis or pond drying. Larvae of the two species appear to differ in their susceptibility to pond drying and predators. These differences may bely a trade-off between abilities to garner resources and avoid predation, which contributes to segregation in larval distributions between Pseudacris species.