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Light-induced changes in pigmentation through ontogeny in cane toad tadpoles (Rhinella marina)

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Light-induced pigmentation changes are widespread among tadpole species. In this study we characterised light-induced changes in melanin dispersion through development in cane toad tadpoles (Rhinella marina). We describe a pattern of light-induced pigmentation change in which tadpoles are darker in the presence of light and lighter in darkness until the onset of metamorphosis. This pattern contrasts with that of other non-bufonid tadpole species, but mimics the pattern of pigment change exhibited by embryonic anurans. We discuss our results in light of the ontogenetic changes in toxicity to evaluate the photoresponse of cane toad tadpole pigments as a potential aposematic signal, neotenic trait, and thermal adaptation.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: July 1, 2015

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