Oecologia | VOL. 199

Meta-analysis of tadpole taste tests: consumption of anuran prey across development and predator strategies.

Publication Date Aug 1, 2022


The risk of predation and the costs and benefits of diverse anti-predator strategies can shift across the life stages of an organism. Yet, empirical examples of ontogenetic switches in defense mechanisms are scarce. Anurans represent an alleged exception; previous meta-analytic work suggests that unpalatability of developing anurans is "rare", whereas adult anurans in many lineages are well defended by toxic and/or unpalatable skin secretions. Here, we revisit the question of the unpalatability of anuran young in a meta-analysis of the relative proportion of prey consumed within 922 predation tests, including 135 anuran species. We tested the hypotheses that a predator's propensity to consume anuran young depends on (1) prey family, (2) predator manipulation strategy, and (3) prey ontogenetic stage. We used a binomial mixed model approach with considerations for multiple effect sizes within studies to evaluate the log odds ratio of the proportion of prey consumed by individual predators. Prey consumption was highly variable, but toads (Bufonidae) were consumed in lower proportions. Chewing invertebrates consumed more anuran prey than biting vertebrates. Late stage tadpoles were more vulnerable to predation than other stages of anuran ontogeny. However, more studies are needed to unravel the roles of development and evolutionary history in the chemical ecology of anuran young. This synthesis provides clear meta-analytic evidence that relative unpalatability is an important component in the anti-predator defenses of young in s...


Late Stage Tadpoles Anuran Prey Ontogenetic Switches Prey Family Anuran Families Predator Strategies Anti-predator Strategies Individual Predators Risk Of Predation Consumption Of Prey

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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