Document Detail

When dinner is dangerous: toxic frogs elicit species-specific responses from a generalist snake predator.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  18171175     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
In arms races between predators and prey, some evolved tactics are unbeatable by the other player. For example, many types of prey are inedible because they have evolved chemical defenses. In this case, prey death removes any selective advantage of toxicity to the prey but not the selective advantage to a predator of being able to consume the prey. In the absence of effective selection for postmortem persistence of the toxicity then, some chemical defenses probably break down rapidly after prey death. If so, predators can overcome the toxic defense simply by waiting for that breakdown before consuming the prey. Floodplain death adders (Acanthophis praelongus) are highly venomous frog-eating elapid snakes native to northern Australia. Some of the frogs they eat are nontoxic (Litoria nasuta), others produce gluelike mucus when seized by a predator (Limnodynastes convexiusculus), and one species (Litoria dahlii) is dangerously toxic to snakes. Both the glue and the toxin degrade within about 20 min of prey death. Adders deal with these prey types in different and highly stereotyped ways: they consume nontoxic frogs directly but envenomate and release the other taxa, waiting until the chemical defense loses its potency before consuming the prey.
Ben Phillips; Richard Shine
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American naturalist     Volume:  170     ISSN:  1537-5323     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. Nat.     Publication Date:  2007 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2008-01-03     Completed Date:  2008-01-24     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2984688R     Medline TA:  Am Nat     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  936-42     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.
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MeSH Terms
Anura / physiology*
Predatory Behavior / physiology*
Snakes / physiology*
Toxins, Biological
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Toxins, Biological

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