Predator–prey interactions play an important role in structuring larval anuran communities in ephemeral wetlands. The type of interaction often depends on the predator species and the complexity of the aquatic habitat. We experimentally evaluated the effects of Panhandle Crayfish (Procambarus evermanni) predation on larval Southern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates sphenocephalus) and larval Ornate Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris ornata). We performed separate experiments for each anuran species and used multiple vegetation treatments to examine whether vegetation could provide refugia from crayfish predation. Our results indicate that crayfish are effective predators of anuran larvae regardless of the amount of vegetation present. Encounters between tadpoles and crayfish often resulted in nonlethal tail injury for tadpoles, suggesting that crayfish predation is prominent in ephemeral wetland communities. Leopard frog tadpoles in predator treatments also grew larger than their counterparts in nonpredator treatments, suggesting a reduction in intraspecific competition. Reduced competition and higher growth rates may allow anuran larvae to develop and metamorphose faster, allowing them to escape aquatic predators, drying wetlands, or both.

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