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Mild segregation in the breeding preferences of an invasive anuran (Discoglossus pictus) and its main native competitor (Epidalea calamita) in ephemeral ponds

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
Authors:
Eudald Pujol-BuxóDepartment of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
IrBio, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

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Gabriel M. RiañoDepartment of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

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Gustavo A. LlorenteDepartment of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
IrBio, Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

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Abstract

The choice of breeding sites by pond-breeding anurans has notable consequences for the fitness of larvae. Hence, beyond pond typology and phenology, adults can also discriminate according to several other features, for instance to favour allotopy with potential competitors. However, the lack of shared evolutionary history might impede proper ecological differentiation with alien species during the first stages of invasions. Here, we studied several possible sources of ecological segregation between the invasive Discoglossus pictus and the native Epidalea calamita in ephemeral ponds, where the native toad hardly had competition before the arrival of the invasive frog. During spring of 2016, we periodically surveyed 69 ephemeral ponds in three areas with different invasion histories to detect the presence/absence of eggs and tadpoles of these species. Invasive D. pictus started breeding earlier than E. calamita, but differences were not significant. Similarly, there were not clear differences among areas with different invasion histories. However, we found for both species a mutual tendency to directly avoid larval syntopy at the end of the reproductive season. We also found interspecific differences in the features that both species use for pond choice, preferring the native species shallower and less vegetated ephemeral ponds. Globally however, co-occurrence was high, pointing at other processes as key to the coexistence between both species in these habitats.

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