Predictors and benefits of microhabitat selection for offspring deposition in golden rocket frogs

Beth A. Pettitt, Godfrey R. Bourne, Mark A. Bee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In many tropical frogs, offspring development and survival potentially depend on microhabitat features associated with sites that parents select for oviposition and tadpole rearing. We investigated the importance of microhabitat features in the selection of oviposition sites versus tadpole rearing sites, as well as in determining offspring survival, in the golden rocket frog, Anomaloglossus beebei. Endemic to Guyana, this species exhibits biparental care and exclusively uses phytotelmata in bromeliads for oviposition and tadpole rearing. We used model-based inference to evaluate evidence that parents prioritize different microhabitat features in selecting phytotelmata suitable for oviposition versus tadpole rearing and that microhabitat selection can adaptively promote offspring survival. For phytotelmata in 132 bromeliads, we quantified bromeliad size, phytotelm height, leaf angle (indicative of location within the bromeliad), water volume, water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, and the presence/absence of potential predators and nearby conspecifics. Compared to tadpole rearing sites, oviposition sites were found in phytotelmata associated with leaves at lower angles within bromeliads, smaller water volumes, lower water temperatures, higher dissolved oxygen concentrations, and more predatory crabs. Compared with unsuccessful egg clutches, successful clutches were found in phytotelmata with lower water temperatures, higher dissolved oxygen concentrations, fewer crabs, more dragonfly larvae, and more nearby conspecifics. We conclude that the nonrandom patterns of microhabitat use for oviposition sites and tadpole rearing sites in golden rocket frogs are associated with specific environmental factors that promote offspring survival through a critical stage of the animals’ complex life cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-928
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Explorers Club Exploration Fund, the Rothman Fellowship Fund, the Dayton Wilkie Natural History Fund of the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota (UMN), Sigma Xi, and the Animal Behavior Society as well as a Grant-in-Aid from the UMN Graduate School. Permission to conduct this study was granted by Dr. Indarjit Ramdass of the Guyana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Yolanda Vasconcellos of the Guyana National Parks Commission. All procedures were approved under the University of Minnesota Institutional Animal Care and Use Protocol #0912A75263 and the Biodiversity Research Permit #190509BR109 from the Guyana EPA. We thank P. Benjamin, F. Marco, Z. Ali, and A. Wubbels for assistance in the field and M. Chan-A-Sue for logistical support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation


  • Anomaloglossus beebei
  • Aromobatidae
  • Brocchinia micrantha
  • Dendrobatoidea
  • Guyana
  • habitat selection
  • parental care
  • phytotelmata


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