Foraging connections: Patterns of prey use linked to invasive predator diel movement

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Johnston CA, Wilson Rankin EE, Gruner DS (2018) Foraging connections: Patterns of prey use linked to invasive predator diel movement. PLoS ONE 13(8): e0201883. 10.1371/journal.pone.0201883


Invasive predators can profoundly impact native communities, especially in insular ecosystems where functionally equivalent predators were evolutionarily absent. Beyond direct consumption, predators can affect communities indirectly by creating or altering food web linkages among existing species. Where invasive predators consume prey from multiple distinct resource channels, novel links may couple the dynamics of disjunct modules and create indirect interactions between them. Our study focuses on invasive populations of Eleutherodactylus coqui (Anura: Leptodactylidae) on Hawaii Island. Coqui actively forage in the understory and lower canopy at night but return to the forest floor and belowground retreats by day. Recent dietary studies using gut contents and naturally occurring stable isotopes indicate higher than expected consumption of litter arthropods, which in these Hawaiian forests are primarily non-native species. We used laboratory studies to observe diurnal and nocturnal foraging behavior, and experimental field additions of C4 vegetation as a litter tracer to distinguish epigaeic sources from food web pools in the C3 canopy. Lab trials revealed that prey consumption during diurnal foraging was half that consumed during nocturnal foraging. Analysis of δ13C isotopes showed incorporation of C4 carbon into litter arthropods within one month, and Bayesian mixing models estimated that 15±25% of the carbon in coqui tissue was derived from litter sources. These results support recent findings that E. coqui are not quiescent diurnally but instead actively forage. Such activity by a mobile invasive predator may introduce a novel linkage that integrates detrital and foliar resource pools, potentially distributing influences of invasive litter arthropods through the broader system to amplify impacts on native species.


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