Habitat and Climate Change Make Frogs Aggressive

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Environmental and climate changes are forcing poison dart frogs to change their social behavior. The spectrum of the effects of global change ranges from the parent animals spending more time grooming their claws and offspring to increased aggression and more frequent cannibalism in young animals, Viennese researchers report.

The poison dart frogs, which live in the South American rainforest, are affected by numerous environmental changes, such as habitat loss, new pathogens, pollution and climate change. Because the animals exhibit a wide range of social and sexual behaviors, a team led by Lia Schlippe Justicia and Bibiana Rojas from the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Behavioral Research at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, used them as models in their work to explore the possible adaptations. of animals to understand global change.

The scientists assume that young animals and larvae in particular are threatened by environmental changes. Due to more irregular precipitation and higher temperatures, there are fewer nurseries for the larvae, such as small ponds. “To compensate for these negative effects, parents will spend more time grooming the claws and taking tadpoles to less vulnerable breeding grounds,” Schlippe Justicia said in a broadcast.

Cannibalism in young animals
In addition, the researchers expect more cannibalism in young animals and generally higher rates of aggression due to limited resources and territories, as well as man-made noise. For example, deforestation or increased noise pollution can disrupt the communication of the animals, for example during courtship or the choice of a mate. The call of the males may be more difficult to hear and the recognizability of potential mates may be reduced.

According to the researchers, the analysis of behavioral and environmental changes through future studies will make an important contribution to better estimating the effects on different species and populations. Rojas now wants to see how fire salamanders react to global changes in Austria.

Source: Krone

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