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Leaf litter of invasive Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) negatively affects hatching success of an aquatic breeding anuran, the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus)

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Abstract:

Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera (L.) Small) is an aggressive invasive tree species that can be abundant in parts of its non-native range. This tree species has the capability of producing monocultures, by outcompeting native trees, which can be in or near wetlands that are utilized by breeding amphibians. Existing research suggests that leaf litter from invasive Chinese tallow reduces survival in larval anurans. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Chinese tallow leaf litter on anuran eggs. We exposed eggs of the Southern Leopard Frog (Lithobates sphenocephalus (Cope, 1886)) at various stages of development to different concentrations of Chinese tallow leaf litter to determine survival. Eggs in the earliest stages of development that we exposed to tallow leaf litter died, regardless of concentration; however, some more-developed eggs exposed to tallow leaf litter did hatch. We determined that the greater the concentration of tallow leaf litter, the lower the dissolved oxygen and pH levels we observed. We suggest that changes in these water-quality parameters are the cause of the observed mortality of anuran eggs in our experiments. Eggs exposed to water containing tallow leaf litter with dissolved oxygen <1.59 mg/L and a pH <5.29 did not survive to hatching.
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