ABS 2022
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Phenotypic plasticity in response to conspecific cues in cannibalistic poison frog tadpoles
Lisa L Surber, Eva K Fischer. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Department of Evolution, Ecology, & Behavior, Urbana, IL, United States

In cannibalistic dyeing poison frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) tadpoles, conspecific cues present a unique conflict at the intersection of predation, competition, and nutritional resources. In this project we raised tadpoles in the presence or absence of conspecific chemical cues and then analyzed a combination of behavioral and morphological traits. Tadpoles reared in the absence of conspecific cues had higher survivability, grew larger, and were more aggressive than those raised in the presence of conspecific cues. No significant difference in gut length was found between the rearing environments. Overall, individuals modified their phenotype in response to conspecific cues, but some kinds of traits were more responsive than others. This has interesting consequences for evolution and our future studies will explore hormonal and neuronal mechanisms that underlie these phenotypic shifts.