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9 September 2019 The effects of tail damage on tadpole development and leaping ability after metamorphosis in Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis)
Nicole M. Koch, Travis E. Wilcoxen
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Abstract

Tadpoles have many predators in the wild and are able to escape from them because the structure of their tail allows it to tear off if attacked. We examined the effects of tail damage in the early tadpole stages on the leaping and swimming abilities of Cuban tree frogs after metamorphosis. We obtained 120 Cuban tree frogs, and to simulate predation, we initially removed a piece of the top of the tadpole tails in one experimental group, cut off a piece of the bottom of the tadpole tails in the second experimental group, and did not make any cuts to tails of the control group. Following tail regeneration by all tadpoles in both experimental groups, we treated all experimental tadpoles as one group, and simulated a second predation event by removing 10% of the distal tip of the tail. After tadpoles completed metamorphosis, they were subjected to a swimming endurance test and subsequent measurement of their leaping abilities. We found no significant effect of tail damage on the leaping abilities of frogs after metamorphosis, and no significant difference in body size at metamorphosis among the groups. The experiment was then replicated and tested tadpole corticosterone (CORT) levels to determine if tadpoles exhibited stress from the tail damage. We found significantly elevated CORT levels in tadpoles with tail damage compared to the tadpoles without tail damage. We conclude that the regeneration abilities of the Cuban tree frog tadpoles afford them the opportunity to survive minor predation events and recover with no apparent long-lasting ill effects even though they were physiologically stressed from the damage. These abilities likely contribute to the Cuban tree frogs' success as an invasive species throughout the Florida peninsula.

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Nicole M. Koch and Travis E. Wilcoxen "The effects of tail damage on tadpole development and leaping ability after metamorphosis in Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis)," BIOS 89(4), 165-173, (9 September 2019). https://doi.org/10.1893/0005-3155-89.4.165
Received: 19 March 2017; Accepted: 9 February 2018; Published: 9 September 2019
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