Tactical reproductive parasitism via larval cannibalism in Peruvian poison frogs

Jason L. Brown, Victor Morales, Kyle Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We report an unusual example of reproductive parasitism in amphibians. Dendrobates variabilis, an Amazonian poison frog, oviposits at the surface of the water in small pools in plants and deposits tadpoles within the pools. Tadpoles are highly cannibalistic and consume young tadpoles if they are accessible. Deposition of embryos and tadpoles in the same pool is common. Genetic analyses indicate that tadpoles are frequently unrelated to embryos in the same pool. A pool choice experiment in the field demonstrated that males carrying tadpoles prefer to place them in pools with embryos, facilitating reproductive parasitism via cannibalism.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)148-151
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anuran
  • Dendrobates
  • Deposition strategies
  • Egg cannibalism
  • Ranitomeya
  • Reproductive parasitism


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