Artificial Warming Facilitates Growth but Not Survival of Plateau Frog (Rana kukunoris) Tadpoles in Presence of Gape-Limited Predatory Beetles.

PloS one

PubMedID: 24905846

Zhao J, Yang Y, Xi X, Zhang C, Sun S. Artificial Warming Facilitates Growth but Not Survival of Plateau Frog (Rana kukunoris) Tadpoles in Presence of Gape-Limited Predatory Beetles. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(6):e98252.
BACKGROUND
Global warming has been frequently demonstrated to increase growth rate in larval amphibians that have considerable phenotypic plasticity; this may lead to an increase in larval survival because large larvae are less likely to be captured by gape-limited predators. This study is to test whether warming could improve tadpole growth and thereby enhance the tadpole survival in plateau frog Rana kukunoris.

METHODOLOGY
We conducted an experiment involving growing tadpoles under two contrasting temperatures, i.e. ambient temperature vs. warming by 3.8°C, with and without their major predators - the gape-limited predaceous diving beetles Agabus sp. in eastern Tibetan Plateau, in a factorial arrangement. We recorded the survival and measured body fresh weight and morphological characteristics of the tadpoles.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
Warming significantly increased body fresh weight in the presence of predators after three weeks of treatments. However, the predators imposed significant and similar effects on the survival of tadpoles under both ambient and elevated temperatures, with the effects mostly occurring in the first three weeks of the experiment. Changes in the body form, i.e. the greater whole length at a given fresh weight and the longer tail at a given body length, could have acted as mechanisms of defense and escape for the tadpoles.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE
Warming did not increase tadpole survival with or without presence of predators. Moreover, an increased growth rate (due to warming in the presence of predators) was not a major factor contributing to the tadpole survival. We postulate that even if warming increases the tadpole growth rate in the plateau frog, it does not necessarily improve their survival in the presence of gape-limited predators.