Direct and Indirect Effects of Predation on Tadpole Community Structure in The Amazon Rainforest
AbstractThe relationship between the distribution of predators (fish, odonates and water beetles) and prey assemblages (amphibian larvae) was investigated in the tropical rainforest of central Amazonas, Brasil. The anuran community uses a variety of waterbodies for reproduction, ranging from streams and streamside ponds to isolated forest ponds. Predators in this system include fish in streams and streamside ponds, and invertebrates (primarily odonate naiads and beetles) in forest ponds. Tadpole species richness and assemblage structure were related to fish density and species richness. No relationships between tadpole assemblages and abiotic pond characteristics were detected. The presence offish explained much of the variation in both species composition and species richness within and among ponds. Some species of tadpole were consistently found to coexist with high densities of fish. Path analyses suggest that while fish have a strong direct effect on tadpole associations and species richness, they also have an indirect effect through invertebrate predators (odonate larvae and coleopteran beetles). Prey survival-strategies such as palatability and behaviour may explain how tadpole species composition is affected by predators at the community level. These findings suggest that the observed patterns of habitat use by larval anurans may be structured in response to the distribution of key predators (fish) in this system.