Ecological aspects of kin discriminating behavior with implications of functional value Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mk61rm398

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  • To assess the context dependence of kin discriminating behavior, I examined kin-biased aggregation behavior in tadpoles of R. cascadae in different ecological conditions. I manipulated food distribution, predator presence, thermal heterogeneity, and relatedness in a multifactorial mesocosm experiment. All four factors interacted to influence tadpole dispersion. My results suggest that kinship is an important factor in aggregation behavior dependent upon ecological conditions. Kin-biased predator defense mechanisms have been proposed as a possible functional explanation for kin discrimination in anuran larvae. Tadpoles may better cooperate in predator vigilance while in kin groups or release kin specific alarm pheromones when attacked by a predator. I examined predator avoidance and alarm response behavior in tadpoles of the Cascades frog (Rana cascadae) and tested whether such behavior is influenced by kinship factors. I found no evidence of an alarm response behavior in R. cascadae. My results suggest that crushed tadpoles appear to initiate a feeding response rather than an alarm response as has been previously proposed. Kin-biased competitive interactions have been proposed as a possible functional explanation for kin discrimination in anuran larvae. Tadpoles may direct competitive interactions away from kin. I examined the role of kinship in growth and development of tadpoles of the Cascades frog (Rana cascadae) in both laboratory and field studies. In the laboratory, individuals reared in kin groups had a significantly smaller mass at metamorphosis than individuals reared in mixed groups. However, kinship effects in the field depended upon the treatment context. Depending upon tadpole density and access to flocculent substrate, tadpoles survived better (after adjusting for differences in mass) in kin groups than in mixed groups. My results demonstrate that kinship factors can affect growth and development in tadpoles, depending upon the ecological conditions. Furthermore, my results provide a functional explanation for the kin discriminating behavior observed in R. cascadae and suggest why such behavior may be context dependent.
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