The influence of predator threat on the timing of a life-history switch point: predator-induced hatching in the southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala)
Abstract: We tested the hypotheses that potential egg predators, crayfish Procambarus nigrocinctus and dytiscid Cybister sp. larvae, would accelerate the timing of hatching and that a larval predator, dragonfly naiad Anax junius, would delay hatching in the southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala). We also tested the hypothesis that differences in response would be proportional to predator lethality. Our results indicate that our hypotheses were partially supported. The presence of an efficient egg predator (crayfish) induces hatching faster than a less efficient predator (dytiscid larvae). However, the presence of a larval predator (naiads) did not delay hatching. Eggs that developed in the presence of egg predators produced hatchlings that were shorter (total length) than those reared in the presence of larval predators or those reared in the absence of predators. We suggest that earlier hatching times should decrease vulnerability to egg predators but result in shorter hatchlings.