Many organisms use chemical cues from a variety of sources to mediate predator avoidance. Response to heterospecific alarm cues has been demonstrated for tadpoles within but not among taxa and alarm response behavior has seldom been examined under field conditions. This study examined the response of three sympatric amphibian larvae and predaceous larval Dytiscus sp. (diving beetle) to damage-release signals in natural ponds by using capture rates from treated funnel traps as an index of larval behavior. Hyla regilla (Pacific tree frog) tadpoles avoided traps treated with either crushed conspecifics or with Rana aurora (red-legged frog) tadpoles but the larger ranids and Arabystoma macrodactylum (long-toed salamander) did not respond to either treatment. H. regilla tadpoles were likely susceptible to any potential predators of ranid tadpoles in these ponds and this result is consistent with the hypothesis that a response to heterospecific alarm occurs in sympatric prey with shared predators.
Additional publication details
Field response of tadpoles to conspecific and heterospecific alarm