Following up on years of research on the individual behavior of mother frogs and tadpoles, I have been collaborating with members of the Srivastava Lab at the University of British Columbia (Diane Srivastava, Virginia Noble, Cora Skaien, and Angelica Gonzalez) to explore the role that poison frogs play in the bromeliad ecosystem and community in which they live.
First, we are trying to understand the role of the tadpole in the bromeliad food web using field sampling of bromeliad communities, microcosm experiments in the lab, and oviposition experiments in the field. This research is also revealing that after a certain later stage of development, tadpoles are no longer mere egg eaters, but also eat mosquito larvae!
Also, we are exploring whether the food and wastes of tadpoles contribute significant amounts of nitrogen to the nutrient cycle of these plants. Bromeliads, which are epiphytes that live attached to trees, are generally nutrient limited. Preliminary results of our stable isotope work indicate that bromeliads that contain tadpoles do, in fact, have more of a type of nitrogen that is of animal origin (N15), suggesting that tadpole wastes or food are contributing to the nutrients of bromeliads as they grow new leaves. As a result of this research we are also learning interesting things about where mother frogs choose to place their tadpoles.