Cannibalism or congeneric predation? The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis(Daudin), preferentially predates on larvae of Cape platannas, Xenopus gilli Rose & Hewitt

Thorp, C.J. ; Vonesh, J.R. ; Measey, J. (2019)


Predators are not limited to prey from other species as they can cannibalise vulnerable individuals within their own population. The African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Daudin), is a predator with a broad diet, known to consume multiple prey species, including congeners and conspecifics. African clawed frogs occur in sympatry with the Endangered Cape platanna, Xenopus gilli Rose & Hewitt, which are under threat through competition and predation from X. laevis. We investigated the threat of X. laevis predation on X. gilli using choice and no‐choice experiments to evaluate the relative vulnerability of X. laevis and X. gilli larvae. Results showed that large X. gilli larvae had a significantly higher vulnerability to X. laevis predation compared to small X. gilli larvae. However, the same discrimination was not discerned when offered large and small X. laevis larvae, or mixed larvae of the same size. We report ontogenic shifts in behaviour of X. gilli larvae that may be a factor in contributing to the vulnerability of large X. gilli larvae to adult X. leavis predation. Congeneric predation likely has negative implications for the population structure of the Endangered X. gilli. Our study underlines the call for the removal of X. laevis to conserve populations of X. gilli.

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