Explosive breeding in tropical anurans: environmental triggers, community composition and acoustic structure

Abstract : Background: Anurans largely rely on acoustic communication for sexual selection and reproduction. While multiple studies have focused on the calling activity patterns of prolonged breeding assemblages, species that concentrate their reproduction in short-time windows, explosive breeders, are still largely unknown, probably because of their ephemeral nature. In tropical regions, multiple species of explosive breeders may simultaneously aggregate leading to massive, mixed and dynamic choruses. To understand the environmental triggers, the phenology and composition of these choruses, we collected acoustic and environmental data at five ponds in French Guiana during a rainy season, assessing acoustic communities before and during explosive breeding events. Results: We detected in each pond two explosive breeding events, lasting between 24 and 70 h. The rainfall during the previous 48 h was the most important factor predicting the emergence of these events. During explosive breeding events, we identified a temporal factor that clearly distinguished pre- and mid-explosive communities. A common pool of explosive breeders co-occurred in most of the events, namely Chiasmocleis shudikarensis, Trachycephalus coriaceus and Ceratophrys cornuta. Nevertheless, the species composition was remarkably variable between ponds and for each pond between the first and the second events. The acoustic structure of explosive breeding communities had outlying levels of amplitude and unexpected low acoustic diversity, significantly lower than the communities preceding explosive breeding events. Conclusions: Explosive breeding communities were tightly linked with specific rainfall patterns. With climate change increasing rainfall variability in tropical regions, such communities may experience significant shifts in their timing, distribution and composition. In structurally similar habitats, located in the same region without obvious barriers, our results highlight the variation in composition across explosive breeding events. The characteristic acoustic structure of explosive breeding events stands out from the circadian acoustic environment being easily detected at long distance, probably reflecting behavioural singularities and conveying heterospecific information announcing the availability of short-lived breeding sites. Our data provides a baseline against which future changes, possibly linked to climate change, can be measured, contributing to a better understanding on the causes, patterns and consequences of these unique assemblages.
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Juan-Sebastian Ulloa, Thierry Aubin, Diego Llusia, Elodie A. Courtois, Antoine Fouquet, et al.. Explosive breeding in tropical anurans: environmental triggers, community composition and acoustic structure. BMC Ecology, BioMed Central, 2019, 19, pp.28. ⟨10.1186/s12898-019-0243-y⟩. ⟨mnhn-02190379⟩

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