Ultraviolet Radiation Influences Perch Selection by a Neotropical Poison-Dart Frog

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Abstract

Ambient ultraviolet-B radiation can harm amphibian eggs, larvae and adults. However, some amphibians avoid UV-B radiation when given the opportunity. The strawberry poison dart frog, Oophaga pumilio, is diurnal and males vocalize throughout the day in light gaps under forest canopies that expose them to solar radiation. Previous studies have demonstrated that males calling from high perches are more successful at mating than those at lower perches. We investigated whether frogs at higher perches receive more ultraviolet-B than those calling from lower perches. We also investigated whether frogs on perches receiving relatively low ultraviolet-B levels maintained their positions for longer compared to individuals calling from perches receiving higher levels of ultraviolet-B. Finally, since it has been hypothesized that some animals utilize levels of UV-A as a visual cue to avoid UV-B damage, we artificially elevated ultraviolet-A levels to examine whether males exposed to artificially elevated ultraviolet-A abandoned their perches sooner compared to males exposed to visible light. We found that frogs called from perches receiving low ultraviolet-B regardless of perch height, and that frogs maintain their positions longer on perches receiving low ultraviolet-B compared to perches receiving even slightly higher ultraviolet-B levels. Exposing the frogs to artificially elevated levels of ultraviolet-A radiation caused males to move off of their perches faster than when they were exposed to a control light source. These experiments suggest that ultraviolet radiation plays an important role in frog behavior related to perch selection, even in rainforests where much of the solar radiation is shielded by the forest canopy.

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Kats, L. B., Bucciarelli, G. M., Schlais, D. E., Blaustein, A. R., & Han, B. A. (2012). Ultraviolet Radiation Influences Perch Selection by a Neotropical Poison-Dart Frog. PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0051364

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