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1 September 2006 Ontogenetic Diet Change in the Arthroleptid Frog Schoutedenella xenodactyloides
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Anuran amphibians are important consumers of arthropods in tropical ecosystems. Previous research has indicated that very small, terrestrial frogs, especially juveniles, largely consume small leaf litter arthropods. To date, few studies have examined diet in African anurans, and no studies exist of ontogenetic change in prey composition for any African frog. We investigated the change in diet that accompanies body size increase in the arthroleptid frog Schoutedenella xenodactyloides (Anura: Ranoidea) from a population located on the Mulanje Massif in Malawi, central Africa. Schoutedenella xenodactyloides is a miniature (< 22 mm snout–urostyle length; SUL), direct-developing frog that is often very abundant and is likely an important consumer of small leaf litter arthropods. Based on examination of stomach and intestinal contents from specimens that span the known range of posthatching body sizes, we document the taxonomic diversity of prey consumed by S. xenodactyloides. We present evidence that S. xenodactyloides exhibits a size-related ontogenetic change in the type and relative proportions of prey taxa. Small frogs (≤ 13 mm SUL) consume large numbers of collembolans and mites. As frogs attain larger body sizes; ants constitute a larger percentage of the total number of prey consumed; and collembolan and mite consumption falls below 10% of the total prey items. The prey consumed by S. xenodactyloides include at least 10 orders of arthropods and an unidentified mollusk. This is a greater diversity of prey items than previously found in Schoutedenella as well as most other arthroleptid species.

David C. Blackburn and Corrie S. Moreau "Ontogenetic Diet Change in the Arthroleptid Frog Schoutedenella xenodactyloides," Journal of Herpetology 40(3), (1 September 2006).[388:ODCITA]2.0.CO;2
Accepted: 1 May 2006; Published: 1 September 2006

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