Native amphibian larvae exhibit higher upper thermal limits but lower performance than their introduced predator Gambusia affinis

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Information on the thermal limits and physiology of ectothermic amphibians is crucial to our understanding of their ecology in the natural environment, particularly with predicted global changes in climate. We documented the thermal limits of larvae of three amphibian species native to Hong Kong, and their introduced, invasive predator, the mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). We then used larvae of the brown tree frog Polypedates megacephalus as a model amphibian to further investigate growth, oxygen consumption rate and heat shock protein expression with changes in thermal regime. We found that G. affinis was the most tolerant of low temperatures but also the least tolerant of high temperatures. Despite the higher thermal tolerance of the amphibian larvae, further investigation on P. megacephalus demonstrated that optimal temperatures for physiological performance fall within a range of 18.0–21.6 °C, which is far lower than its upper thermal limit, implying that thermal stress occurs during part of the larval stage under natural environmental conditions. This could mean a reduction in their capacity to deal with other stressors such as pollution and predators, and that G. affinis may have an advantage over native amphibians.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Thermal Biology