Jun-Haeng HEO,Heon-Joo LEE,Il-Hun KIM,et al.Can an Invasive Prey Species Induce Morphological and Behavioral Changes in an Endemic Predator? Evidence from a South Korean Snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus)[J].Asian Herpetological Research(AHR),2014,5(4):245-254.[doi:10.3724/SP.J.1245.2014.00245]
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Can an Invasive Prey Species Induce Morphological and Behavioral Changes in an Endemic Predator? Evidence from a South Korean Snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus)
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Asian Herpetological Research[ISSN:2095-0357/CN:51-1735/Q]

2014 VoI.5 No.4
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Original Article
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Can an Invasive Prey Species Induce Morphological and Behavioral Changes in an Endemic Predator? Evidence from a South Korean Snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus)
Jun-Haeng HEO1# Heon-Joo LEE1# Il-Hun KIM1 Jonathan J. FONG2 Ja-Kyeong KIM1 Sumin JEONG1 and Daesik PARK1*
1 Department of Biology, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Kangwon 200-701, South Korea
2 Division of Science Education, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Kangwon 200-701, South Korea
invasive prey bullfrog Rana catesbeiana Oocatochus rufodorsatus predator response
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.


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