Foraging tactics in alternative heterochronic salamander morphs: trophic quality of ponds matters more than water permanency.
Show FileMIME type:application/pdfFile Size:588.3Kb
Show FileMIME type:application/pdfFile Size:331.9Kb
Whiteman, Howard H.
Wissinger, Scott A.
MetadataShow full item record
Subjectalternative developmental pathways; energy intake; habitat selection; optimal foraging; salamander
1. In lentic freshwater habitats, the composition of animal assemblages shifts along a gradient from temporary to permanent basins. When habitats with different degrees of permanence are at the scale of the home range of species, they constitute alternatives in terms of energy acquisition through feeding. 2. In this context, previous studies showed an advantage of metamorphic over paedomorphic tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) in temporary ponds which are only available to metamorphs. The aim of this study was to establish whether salamanders obtain similar benefits in ponds that do not differ in water permanence and whether salamanders shifted from detrimental to advantageous ponds. To this end, we determined the feeding habits, body condition and movement patterns of the two morphs in a complex of four permanent and four temporary ponds. 3. Consistent with previous studies, metamorphs consumed higher-quality diets than paedomorphs in term of energy intake. However, these differences occurred because metamorphs consumed fairy shrimp in a single temporary pond. Individual movement patterns confirmed that most of the metamorphs used different aquatic habitats both within and between years and that most of them moved from permanent ponds for breeding towards the most profitable temporary pond in terms of foraging. 4. These results indicate that habitat selection by salamanders is optimal in term of energy intake in metamorphs that use high quality ponds independently of hydroperiod. It seems that both spatial and temporal variation can influence the relative foraging success of each morph.