Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Frog fathers don't mind dropping off their tadpoles in cannibal-infested pools

Date:
January 20, 2014
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
Given a choice, male dyeing poison frogs snub empty pools in favor of ones in which their tiny tadpoles have to grow in the company of larger, carnivorous ones of the same species. The frog fathers only choose to deposit their developing young in unoccupied pools when others are already filled with tadpoles of a similar size. These are seemingly counterintuitive decisions, given how often cannibalism involving a large tadpole eating a smaller one takes place in natural pools.

A male Dendrobates tinctorius.
Credit: Springer Science+Business Media

Given a choice, male dyeing poison frogs snub empty pools in favor of ones in which their tiny tadpoles have to metamorphose into frogs in the company of larger, carnivorous ones of the same species. The frog fathers only choose to deposit their developing young in unoccupied pools when others are already filled with tadpoles of a similar size as their own. These are seemingly counterintuitive decisions, given how often cannibalism involving a large tadpole eating a smaller one takes place in natural pools, writes Bibiana Rojas of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. Her findings are published in Springer's journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Related Articles


Rojas studied a population of dyeing poison frogs (Dendrobates tinctorius) in the forests of French Guiana. In nature, these frogs lay clutches of four to five eggs. When hatched, the males carry the tadpoles to water-filled cavities in treeholes or palm bracts. Once at their rearing site, tadpoles remain unattended but also unable to leave, until their metamorphosis about two months later.

Choosing good places to deposit tadpoles generally has direct effects on fitness or the continuation of a parent's genetic line. This is because the conditions that larvae experience affect their survival and their life history in terms of the time and size at which metamorphoses takes place.

Rojas found, if given the choice, male dyeing poison frogs prefer taking their newly hatched tadpoles to pools already occupied by larger conspecific larvae -- this despite the high risk of cannibalism.

She believes that the presence of a larger conspecific tadpole is a signal to frog fathers that conditions in a specific pool are conducive to larval development. Also, parents might have little choice other than depositing their tadpoles in already occupied pools because so very few suitable ones are around.

"The presence and the size of conspecifics influence parental decision-making in the context of choosing a rearing-site for their offspring," says Rojas. "Apparently strange parental decisions, such as depositing offspring with large cannibals, may ultimately not be that strange.

The researcher continued, "The decision is like a gamble for the frog father! Chances are that its tadpole gets eaten by a large resident in an occupied pool, but an unoccupied pool might mean, for example, that other requirements for development, such as the stable presence of water, are not met. If the father is lucky and its tadpole is not eaten, it may ultimately be safer in a stable pool than in one that could easily dry out."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bibiana Rojas. Strange parental decisions: fathers of the dyeing poison frog deposit their tadpoles in pools occupied by large cannibals. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1670-y

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Frog fathers don't mind dropping off their tadpoles in cannibal-infested pools." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120090457.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2014, January 20). Frog fathers don't mind dropping off their tadpoles in cannibal-infested pools. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120090457.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Frog fathers don't mind dropping off their tadpoles in cannibal-infested pools." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120090457.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) — A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins