Title

Can an invasive prey species induce morphological changes in an endemic predator? Evidence from a South Korean snake (Oocatochus rufudorsatus)

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Asian Herpetological Research

Publication Date

12-25-2014

Volume

5

Issue

4

First Page

245

Last Page

254

Publisher

Zhongguo Kexueyuan Chengdu Shengwu Yanjiusuo

Keywords

invasive prey, bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, Oocatochus rufodorsatus, predator response

Abstract

Introduction of an invasive prey species into an ecosystem may affect an endemic predator’s fitness by altering the prey-predator system. Successful adaptation may allow the endemic predator to eat and control the invasive species, while unsuccessful adaptation may result in extinction of the predator. We examine the possible effects of the invasive North American bullfrog (Rana [Lithobates] catesbeiana) on the endemic Red-backed rat snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus) in South Korea. We do so by comparing the morphology and behavior of adult and hatchling snakes from bullfrog-exposed (Taean) and bullfrog-unexposed (Hongcheon) populations. Among the seven morphological characteristics investigated, relative tail length (tail length/snout-vent length) of both adults and hatchlings from Taean was significantly greater than that of adults and hatchlings from Hongcheon. Also, adult snakes from Taean had a significantly shorter latency of first tongue flick in response to prey compared to adults from Hongcheon. This difference was not observed in hatchlings. In other snake species, a longer relative tail length and shorter latency of first tongue flick are known to improve foraging efficiency, and these characters may be adaptations of O. rufodorsatus to prey on bullfrogs. This study provides preliminary evidence that the presence of an invasive prey species may cause morphological and behavioral changes in an endemic predator.

DOI

10.3724/SP.J.1245.2014.00245

Print ISSN

20950357

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2014 Asian Herpetological Research (AHR). Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Heo, J.-H., Lee, H.-J., Kim, I.-H., Fong, J. J., Kim, J.-K., Jeong, S., & Park, D. (2014). Can an invasive prey species induce morphological changes in an endemic predator? Evidence from a South Korean snake (Oocatochus rufudorsatus). Asian Herpetological Research, 5(4), 245-254. doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1245.2014.00245