Diet evolution in litter frogs: reassessing the Toft’s hypotheses

In: Amphibia-Reptilia

Abstract

In a series of papers starting in the early 1980s, Toft proposed a general scenario to explain dietary evolution in leaf litter anurans in which species would “form a continuum from those that specialize on ants and mites, through generalists, to species that avoid ants and mites”, and these differences would in turn correlate with foraging strategies, morphology, and defense mechanisms. In this study, we reassess this hypothesis using a global dataset on the dietary composition of 120 anuran species. Surprisingly, we found that the relative contribution of ants and mites in anuran diets were largely orthogonal to one another. Moreover, we did not find evidence for the continuum of dietary composition envisioned by Toft. These results suggest that, although ants and mites have played a major role in the evolution of aposematic species, the trends found in those species might not be directly extrapolated to all leaf litter anurans.

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