An Analysis of Predator Selection to Affect Aposematic Coloration in a Poison Frog Species

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Dreher, Corinna E.; Cummings, Molly E.; Pröhl, Heike: An Analysis of Predator Selection to Affect Aposematic Coloration in a Poison Frog Species. In: PLoS ONE 10 (2015), Nr. 6. DOI:

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Sum total of downloads: 102

Natural selection is widely noted to drive divergence of phenotypic traits. Predation pressure can facilitate morphological divergence, for example the evolution of both cryptic and conspicuous coloration in animals. In this context Dendrobatid frogs have been used to study evolutionary forces inducing diversity in protective coloration. The polytypic strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio) shows strong divergence in aposematic coloration among populations. To investigate whether predation pressure is important for color divergence among populations of O. pumilio we selected four mainland populations and two island populations from Costa Rica and Panama. Spectrometric measurements of body coloration were used to calculate color and brightness contrasts of frogs as an indicator of conspicuousness for the visual systems of several potential predators (avian, crab and snake) and a conspecific observer. Additionally, we conducted experiments using clay model frogs of different coloration to investigate whether the local coloration of frogs is better protected than non-local color morphs, and if predator communities vary among populations. Overall predation risk differed strongly among populations and interestingly was higher on the two island populations. Imprints on clay models indicated that birds are the main predators while attacks of other predators were rare. Furthermore, clay models of local coloration were equally likely to be attacked as those of non-local coloration. Overall conspicuousness (and brightness contrast) of local frogs was positively correlated with attack rates by birds across populations. Together with results from earlier studies we conclude that conspicuousness honestly indicates toxicity to avian predators. The different coloration patterns among populations of strawberry poison frogs in combination with behavior and toxicity might integrate into equally efficient anti-predator strategies depending on local predation and other ecological factors.
License of this version: CC BY 4.0
Document Type: article
Publishing status: publishedVersion
Issue Date: 2015-06-25
Appears in Collections:Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät

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1 image of flag of Germany Germany 81 79.41%
2 image of flag of Ukraine Ukraine 6 5.88%
3 image of flag of Russian Federation Russian Federation 4 3.92%
4 image of flag of Netherlands Netherlands 3 2.94%
5 image of flag of United States United States 2 1.96%
6 image of flag of China China 2 1.96%
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9 image of flag of Hong Kong Hong Kong 1 0.98%
10 image of flag of Brazil Brazil 1 0.98%

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