Disgusting or delicious? Predatory behavior of the hylid frog Phyllodytes luteolus on sympatric ants

Mirco Solé


The phytotelm-dwelling frogs from the genus Phyllodytes Wagler, 1830 have been characterized as specialist frogs regarding their diet strategy which is mainly composed by colonial insects. Herein, we used two species of ants (Camponotus sp. and Gnamtogenys sp.) with distinct defensive mechanisms to test the predatory behavior of Phyllodytes luteolus. The experiment was conducted with frogs inhabiting a patch of 20 bromeliads (Aechmea cf. blanchetiana). Ants were offered randomly to the frogs until we obtained 10 observations of predation of each ant species. We observed and recorded the time that P. luteolus needed to keep each ant species inside its mouth before it could ingest it. Predatory behavior was highly distinct. While Camponotus were caught and swallowed within six seconds and without apparent discomfort, individuals of P. luteolus had more difficulty in swallowing Gnamtogenys individuals, the time of manipulation ranging from 57 to 177 seconds. The mean values of time of predation observed in each treatment was highly significant (p<0.001). We conclude that differences found in the time of manipulation are highly correlated with defense mechanisms of each species of ants.

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