Top-down effects of a terrestrial frog on forest nutrient dynamics

Beard,Karen H.; Vogt, Kristiina A.; Kulmatiski,Andrew 2002. Top-down effects of a terrestrial frog on forest nutrient dynamics.. Oecologia 133 :583 593.

Many studies have found top-down effects of predators on prey, but few studies have linked top-down effects of vertebrate predators to nutrient cycling rates in terrestrial systems. In this study, large and significant effects of a terrestrial frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui (coqu), were recorded on nutrient concentrations and fluxes in a subtropical wet forest. In a manipulative experiment, coqus at natural densities were contained in or excluded from 1 m3 enclosures for 4 months. Chemistry of leaf wash (throughfall), foliage, and decomposed leaf litter in the enclosures were measured as indicators of coqu effects on nutrient cycling. Coqu exclusion decreased elemental concentrations in leaf washes by 83% for dissolved organic C, 71% for NH4 +, 33% for NO3 –, 60% for dissolved organic N, and between 60 and 100% for Ca, Fe, Mg, Mn, P, K, and Zn. Coqu exclusion had no effect on foliar chemistry of plants transplanted into the enclosures. However, coqu exclusion decreased nutrient availability in decomposing mixed leaf litter by 12% and 14% for K and P, respectively, and increased C:N ratios by 13%. Changes in nutrient concentrations that occurred with coqu exclusion appear to be due to concentrations of nutrients in coqu waste products and population turnover. The results supported our hypothesis that coqus have an observable effect on nutrient dynamics in this forest. We suggest that the primary mechanism through which they have this effect is through the

The effects of the frog Eleutherodactylus coqui on invertebrates and ecosystem processes at two scales in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

The Effects of the Frog Eleutherodactylus coqui on Invertebrates and Ecosystem Processes at Two Scales in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico
Karen H. Beard, Anne K. Eschtruth, Kristiina A. Vogt, Daniel J. Vogt and Frederick N. Scatena
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 19, No. 6 (Nov., 2003), pp. 607-617

Determining the ubiquity of top-down control effects of predators on their prey and ecosystem processes is important for understanding community and ecosystem-level consequences that may result from predator loss. We conducted experiments at two spatial scales to investigate the effects of terrestrial frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) on aerial and litter invertebrates, plant growth and herbivory, and litter decomposition. At both scales, frogs reduced aerial invertebrates and leaf herbivory, but had no effect on litter invertebrates. At the smaller scale, frogs increased foliage production rates, measured as the number of new leaves and new leaf area produced, by 80% and decomposition rates by 20%. The influence of E. coqui on increasing primary productivity and decomposition rates at the smaller scale appeared to be a result of elimination and excretion rather than of controlling prey. While the results provide evidence for frogs controlling herbivorous prey at both scales, species effects on ecosystem processes were only detectable at the smaller scale. The results highlight the difficulties in conducting experiments at large spatial scales. The findings from this study imply that the loss of amphibians and other species of higher trophic levels may affect nutrient cycling rates in tropical forests.
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