Predators and invasive plants affect performance of amphibian larvae

  • Watling J
  • Hickman C
  • Orrock J
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Abstract

Exotic ecosystem engineers induce structural and qualitative habitat changes in invaded landscapes, yet studies rarely examine the effects of both of these changes on native taxa. We used a factorial experiment in natural, predator-containing environments to determine whether performance of amphibian larvae was aff ected by predators and/or changes in habitat structure or chemistry associated with the invasive shrub Lonicera maackii . Invertebrate predators significantly reduced survival of American toad Anaxyrus americanus larvae, whereas tadpole development was accelerated in pools inoculated with the chemical signature of L. maackii . The significant effect of L. maackii chemistry on A. americanus larvae suggests that invasive species may have non-intuitive effects even on native taxa with which they share no trophic connection, and may represent cryptic components of the multiple, interactive drivers of biodiversity change.

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