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Stable Isotopes Reveal Trophic Partitioning and Trophic Plasticity of a Larval Amphibian Guild

AutorArribas, Rosa; Díaz-Paniagua, Carmen ; Caut, Stéphane ; Gómez-Mestre, Iván
Fecha de publicación2015
EditorPublic Library of Science
CitaciónPLoS ONE, 10(6): e0130897 (2015)
ResumenTemporary ponds are highly variable systems where resource availability and community structure change extensively over time, and consequently the food web is highly dynamic. Amphibians play a critical role both as consumers and prey in aquatic communities and yet there is still little information on the trophic status of most amphibians. More importantly, little is known about the extent to which they can alter their trophic ecology in response to changing conditions.We experimentally investigated the effects of increased amphibian density, presence of intraguild competitors, and presence of native and invasive predators (either free or caged) on the trophic status of a Mediterranean amphibian guild, using stable isotopes. We observed variations in δ13C and δ15N isotopic values among amphibian species and treatments and differences in their food sources. Macrophytes were the most important food resource for spadefoot toad tadpoles (Pelobates cultripes) and relatively important for all anurans within the guild. High density and presence of P. cultripes tadpoles markedly reduced macrophyte biomass, forcing tadpoles to increase their feeding on detritus, algae and zooplankton, resulting in lower δ13C values. Native dytiscid predators only changed the isotopic signature of newts whereas invasive red swamp crayfish had an enormous impact on environmental conditions and greatly affected the isotopic values of amphibians. Crayfish forced tadpoles to increase detritus ingestion or other resources depleted in δ13C. We found that the opportunistic amphibian feeding was greatly conditioned by intra- and interspecific competition whereas non-consumptive predator effects were negligible. Determining the trophic plasticity of amphibians can help us understand natural and anthropogenic changes in aquatic ecosystems and assess amphibians’ ability to adjust to different environmental conditions.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130897
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