Ontogenetic shifts in ambush-site selection of a sit-and-wait predator, the Chacoan Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli)
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© 2015, National Research Council of Canada. All rights reserved. Ontogenetic shifts in habitat use are widespread among vertebrates. These niche shifts are often attributed to age-specific patterns of resource use, which are correlated with changes in morphology, diet, and habitat. We examined the ontogeny of ambush-site selection in a sit-and-wait predator, the Chacoan Horned Frog (Ceratophrys cranwelli Barrio, 1980), in the Gran Chaco ecoregion of Bolivia. We quantified covariation in microhabitat and morphological variables and tested for micro-habitat selection against randomly selected points. We identified an ontogenetic shift in ambush-site selection between adult and metamorph frogs. When compared with random points, metamorphs selected a subset of available habitat, whereas adult frogs did not appear to select ambush sites. Metamorphs, compared with adults, selected ambush sites farther from a pond’s edge with a greater proportion of dry mud. The metamorph of C. cranwelli may have selected ambush sites based on spatial distribution of certain size classes of prey. Alternatively, metamorphs could have selected sites to minimize asymmetric agonistic intraspecific interactions with adults. These mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and probably occur in concert. Habitat selection and ontogenetic niche shifts by these organisms provide insights to the trade-offs between foraging strategy and mortality risk.
author list (cited authors)
Schalk, C. M., & Fitzgerald, L. A.