The diet of a forest-dependent frog species, Odorrana morafkai (Anura: Ranidae), in relation to habitat disturbance

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Abstract

While deforestation is one of the greatest drivers of biodiversity loss, our understanding of the effects of habitat modification on species is limited. We investigated the diet of a forest-dwelling frog species, Morafka’s frog (Odorrana morafkai), in a highland forest in Vietnam in relation to habitat disturbance, sex and season. We surveyed the species at 45 sites in forest of varying disturbance and examined its diet using stomach flushing, estimating prey availability via trapping. We detected significantly fewer O. morafkai in highly disturbed habitats compared to moderately disturbed or non-disturbed habitats. We revealed that O. morafkai is a dietary generalist, identifying 28 prey types, primarily invertebrates. Prey composition, the number of prey items per stomach and prey volume per stomach did not vary between disturbance levels. Diet did not vary significantly between sexes, except that females had a higher prey volume. Prey composition in the species varied between seasons, with Coleoptera and Orthoptera dominating the diet in the rainy season and Lepidoptera in the dry season. The number of prey items per stomach and prey volume were significantly higher in the rainy season. There was a significant correlation between prey availability and diet composition. The low number of O. morafkai detected in highly disturbed habitats suggests that this habitat may not be optimal for the species, despite having a generalist feeding strategy and presumed high mobility. This study provides a window into the impact of an increasing threat, habitat disturbance, on forest-dependent amphibian species.

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Figures
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    Location of study sites in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park on the Langbian Plateau, Vietnam (▼: non-disturbed site; ○: moderately disturbed site; ▽: highly disturbed site).

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    Number of individuals of Odorrana morafkai captured at sites in each of the three habitat categories. Bars encompass values up to 1.5 interquartile range, open circle represents values >1.5 interquartile ranges from the nearest quartile. *: significant difference.

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    Boxplots representing factors that differed significantly among treatments. (A) Body condition (weight/SVL) and sex, (B) Body condition and habitat disturbance level, (C) Number of prey items per stomach and season, (D) Number of prey items per stomach and sex, (E) Prey volume per stomach and season, and (F) Prey volume per stomach and sex. Bars encompass values up to 1.5 interquartile range, open circles represent values >1.5 interquartile ranges from the nearest quartile. In D, M: moderately disturbed sites and N: non-disturbed sites.

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    Dietary composition (%) of Odorrana morafkai with regards to frequency of occurrence, numeric proportion, volume proportion and overall importance value of each prey taxon. T: terrestrial, A: aquatic.

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    Results of analysis variance (ANOVA) examining the impact season, sex and habitat disturbance on the number of prey items in stomachs and volume of prey of Odorrana morafkai.

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    Nonmetric multi-dimentional scaling (NMDS) of prey taxa in stomach flushing samples from Odorrana morafkai with respect to (A) season, (B) sex, and (C) degree of habitat disturbance. Bray-Curtis similarity, square root transformation.

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