The impacts of nonindigenous species on native ecosystems can be severe, sometimes leading to the extinction of native taxa. Interspecific competition is a potential mechanism of negative impact of invasive species, but few studies have conclusively demonstrated competition between native and nonindigenous taxa. In this study I used experimental manipulations to examine the competitive effects of the larvae of two widely introduced anurans, the cane toad, Bufo marinus, and the Cuban treefrog, Osteopilus septentrionalis, on the growth and development of the larvae of two native anurans (the southern toad, Bufo terrestris, and the green treefrog, Hyla cinerea). The presence of O. septentrionalis larvae consistently impacted growth and development of native larvae, resulting in reduced growth rates and delayed metamorphosis of both native species and smaller mass at metamorphosis of B. terrestris. Hyla cinerea larvae transformed at greater body masses when reared with the rapidly transforming nonindigenous species as a result of competitive release. The negative effects of O. septentrionalis on native larvae were generally significant whether native tadpoles were exposed to O. septentrionalis alone or in combination with B. marinus. In contrast, B. marinus tadpoles did not significantly impact the growth or development of either native species. Neither nonindigenous species significantly decreased the survivorship of native larvae, although a trend toward decreased survivorship was evident for H. cinerea. These results suggest that nonindigenous larval anurans may adversely impact native tadpole communities as a result of interspecific competition.
Additional publication details
Effects of nonindigenous tadpoles on native tadpoles in Florida: Evidence of competition