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Social attraction in larval green and golden bell frogs
Animal social behaviour is one of my major research interests, and why animals form social groups. Group formation (including pairs) has evolved independently in numerous different species. Understanding the ultimate (evolutionary) factors and proximate mechanisms that influence and drive the formation of animal groups is a major challenge in evolutionary biology.
In this study, I investigated social attraction among tadpoles of the Green and Golden Bell Frog (Litoria aurea). The project was done in collaboration with Mike Mahony (University of Newcastle) and also Martin Whiting (Macquarie University), while I spent some time in his lab in Sydney.
We showed that individual tadpoles strongly preferred associating with conspecifics compared to being alone.
Furthermore, this preference was body size dependent, and associating tadpoles were significantly smaller than non- associating tadpoles. Small tadpoles are generally more vulnerable to predation, and we suggested that the observed aggregation behaviour would be consistent with an anti-predator behaviour.
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