Rieger, Josef F., Binckley, Christopher A. and Resetarits, William J.
Larval performance and oviposition site preference along a predation gradient.
Ecology, 85, (8), . (doi:10.1890/04-0156).
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The ability of females to assess habitat quality for offspring can strongly influence individual reproductive success as well as population dynamics and community assembly. However, the specific relationship between oviposition site selection and larval performance is often unclear. Ovipositing females of several species of treefrogs (Hyla) avoid predatory fish.
The fish density required to elicit such avoidance and its relationship to larval performance are central to our understanding of how behavior can drive population dynamics and community assembly in complex landscapes. We conducted experiments investigating both oviposition preference and larval performance in pinewoods treefrogs (Hyla femoralis) along a density gradient of predatory fish (0-6 Umbra pygmaea).
Female H. femoralis detected and strongly avoided the nonlethal presence of even a single 2-g fish, ovipositing almost exclusively in predator-free controls. In a separate experiment, larval performance largely matched adult preferences; larvae were totally eliminated in all but the lowest fish density. Given a landscape of breeding sites of varying risks, ovipositing H. femoralis behaviorally partition available habitats into those with and without fish, largely matching the associated fitness consequences.
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