Can an invasive prey species induce morphological and behavioral changes in an endemic predator? evidence from a South Korean snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus)

Jun Haeng Heo, Heon Joo Lee, Il Hun Kim, Jonathan J. Fong, Ja Kyeong Kim, Sumin Jeong, Daesik Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalAsian Herpetological Research
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

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snakes
predators
Lithobates catesbeianus
tail
tongue
South Korea
Rana
invasive species
extinction
foraging
ecosystems
rats

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Heo, Jun Haeng ; Lee, Heon Joo ; Kim, Il Hun ; Fong, Jonathan J. ; Kim, Ja Kyeong ; Jeong, Sumin ; Park, Daesik. / Can an invasive prey species induce morphological and behavioral changes in an endemic predator? evidence from a South Korean snake (Oocatochus rufodorsatus). In: Asian Herpetological Research. 2014 ; Vol. 5, No. 4. pp. 245-254.
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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). / Heo, Jun Haeng; Lee, Heon Joo; Kim, Il Hun; Fong, Jonathan J.; Kim, Ja Kyeong; Jeong, Sumin; Park, Daesik.

In: Asian Herpetological Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, 01.01.2014, p. 245-254.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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