Trophic Ecology of Endangered Gold-Spotted Pond Frog in Ecological Wetland Park and Rice Paddy Habitats

Oh, Hye-JiChang, Kwang-HyeonJin, Mei-YanSuh, Jong-MoYoon, Ju-DukShin, Kyung-HoonPark, Su-GonChang, Min-Ho. Animals 11 : 967 (2021)  DIGITAL CSIC

The gold-spotted pond frog (Pelophylax chosenicus) is an endangered amphibian species in South Korea. In order to obtain ecological information regarding the gold-spotted pond frog’s habitat environment and biological interactions, we applied stable isotope analysis to quantify the ecological niche space (ENS) of frogs including black-spotted pond frogs (P. nigromaculatus) and bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) within the food web of two different habitats—an ecological wetland park and a rice paddy. The gold-spotted pond frog population exhibited a broader ENS in the ecological wetland park than in the rice paddy. According to the carbon stable isotope ratios, gold-spotted pond frogs mainly fed on insects, regardless of habitat type. However, the results comparing the range of both carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes showed that gold-spotted pond frogs living in the rice paddy showed limited feeding behavior, while those living in the ecological wetland park fed on various food sources located in more varied trophic positions. Although the ENS of the gold-spotted pond frog was generally less likely to be overlapped by that of other frog species, it was predicted to overlap with a high probability of 87.3% in the ecological wetland park. Nevertheless, gold-spotted pond frogs in the ecological wetland park were not significantly affected by the prey competition with competitive species by feeding on other prey for which other species’ preference was low. Since these results show that a habitats’ food diversity has an effect on securing the ENS of gold-spotted pond frogs and prey competition, we recommend that the establishment of a food environment that considers the feeding behavior of gold-spotted pond frogs is important for the sustainable preservation of gold-spotted pond frogs and their settlement in alternative habitats.