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Density effects of oophagous tadpoles of Chirixalus eiffingeri Importance of maternal brood care



Density effects of oophagous tadpoles of Chirixalus eiffingeri Importance of maternal brood care



Herpetologica 54(4): 425-433



We studied the density-dependent aspects of growth, development, and survivorship of arboreal tadpoles of Chirixalus eiffingeri in bamboo forests at the Experimental Forest of the National Taiwan University at Chitou, Taiwan, from May-September 1995. Newly hatched tadpoles were randomly assigned to one of the three treatments: low (LD), medium (MD), and high density (HD) (six, 18, and 54 tadpoles/bamboo stump, respectively), and each treatment consisted of 15 replicates. Tadpoles of Chirixalus eiffingeri are obligatorily oophagous; thus, growth, development, and survivorship of tadpoles are totally dependent upon trophic egg availability. Tadpoles in all treatments increased in mass during development, but LD and MD tadpoles grew faster and weighed significantly heavier than HD tadpoles by week 5. During the first five weeks of development, the biomass increase of tadpoles (BMI) in successful nests was substantially greater than zero and was significantly different between treatments, indicating that female frogs are capable of increasing the supply of trophic eggs as the tadpole number increased in MD and HD treatments. Body size at metamorphosis was density-dependent but the time required to reach metamorphosis was not, which was different from earlier studies on pond breeders. This discrepancy is probably due to the different feeding habits (i.e., herbivory versus oophagy) and size-selective feeding behavior. Results suggest that the energetic reserves of female frogs for brooding strongly affect the growth, development, and survivorship of tadpoles.

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