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Competition induces increased toxin production in toad larvae without allelopathic effects on heterospecific tadpoles [Functional Ecology]

Keywords : allelopathy, amphibian toxins, chemical defence, chemical interference, growth-defence trade-off, growth inhibition, inducible defences, phenotypic plasticity

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

1.Inducible defences are a form of phenotypic plasticity by which organisms respond to and mitigate the threat posed by predators, parasites and competitors. While anti-predatory defences are often in trade-off with anti-competitor responses, chemicals that deter predators may have negative effects on competitors as well. Allelopathy is well known in plants and plant-like animals, but whether the toxins of mobile, behaviourally and morphologically complex animals are induced by and exert allelopathic effects on competitors is poorly known.
2. Common toads Bufo bufo synthesize bufadienolides which make them unpalatable or toxic to many predators. However, bufadienolide content of toad tadpoles correlates positively with the density of competitors in natural populations, suggesting that they may upregulate their toxin production to inhibit their competitors, such as heterospecific tadpoles that may be vulnerable to toad toxins.(...)

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