Finding a place to live: conspecific attraction affects habitat selection in juvenile green and golden bell frogs

Lígia Pizzatto, Michelle Stockwell, Simon Clulow, John Clulow, Michael Mahony

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Conspecific attraction plays an important role in habitat selection of several taxa and can affect and determine distribution patterns of populations. The behaviour is largely studied and widespread among birds, but in amphibians, its occurrence seems limited to breeding habitats of adults and gregarious tadpoles. The Australian green and golden bell frogs (Litoria aurea) have suffered considerable shrinking of their original distribution in south-eastern Australia since the 1970s. Currently, with only about 40 populations remaining, the species is considered nationally threatened. In natural conditions, these frogs are aggregated in the landscape and do not seem to occupy all suitable ponds within the occurrence area. To date, studies focusing on the frogs’ habitat have failed in finding a general habitat feature that explains current or past occupancy. This led us to the hypothesis that social cues may play a key role in habitat selection in this species. Using two choice experiments, we tested the preference of juvenile green and golden bell frogs for habitats containing cues of conspecifics of similar size versus habitats without conspecific cues. Tested frogs did not show a preference for habitats containing only scent from conspecifics but did prefer habitats where conspecifics were present. Our results show that conspecific attraction is a determining factor in juvenile green and golden bell frog habitat selection. To our knowledge, this is the first time the behaviour is shown to occur in juvenile frogs in the habitat selection context. From a conservation management point of view, the behaviour may help to explain the failure of reintroductions to areas where the frogs have been extinct, and the non-occupation of suitable created habitats in areas where they still inhabit and develop appropriated management strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalActa Ethologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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