Presentation Details
Behavioral Plasticity in Response to Environmental Cues in Poison Frog Tadpoles

Lisa L.Surber, Eva K.Fischer.

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA


An essential challenge for all animals is to respond appropriately to environmental cues – both good and bad. Larval amphibians exhibit phenotypic and behavioral plasticity in response to environmental cues that indicate potential threats of predation, competition, or resource availability. To understand behavioral changes in response to various cues, I conducted open field tests with dyeing poison frog (Dendrobates tinctorius) tadpoles. Open field tests are used across species to measure activity, boldness, and stimulus responses, and I used them to compare cues of different valence in a standardized way. I first assessed repeatability of behavior in the absence of a cue in two baseline tests. In subsequent tests, I exposed tadpoles to cues signaling conspecific presence, predator presence, conspecific death, and food availability in a randomized order. From this dataset I measured individual variation, repeatability, and the effect of each cue. These findings contribute to our understanding of how individuals behaviorally respond to environmental cues and are the basis for future studies that will analyze hormonal and neuronal mechanisms that underlie these behavioral shifts.

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