Intraspecific competition is predicted to strongly influence species abundance and dynamics through two main mechanisms: consumption and interference of resources. Tadpoles were used in experiments in which we tried to elucidate the relative importance of each mechanism. Our goal was to apply this experimental procedure to Leptodactylus ocellatus, a common South American anuran, a species whose larvae exhibit aggregative behavior and receive parental care. Previous work suggests that tadpole schools should present lower levels of intraspecific competition. Tadpoles from a single nest were reared in the laboratory in three densities (1, 2, and 4 individuals/container) and three food levels (1, 2, and 4 ration multiples) in a randomized three-block design for a factorial analysis of variance, up to day eight. Contrary to previous work with other species, our results show both the absence of interference competition effects, and that larval growth depends only on per capita food availability. The differences between species in intraspecific competition mechanisms are probably related to strong differences in ecology and life history. Leptodactylus ocellatus tadpoles could be directing interference competition away from their kin, reducing schooling costs. Further studies (including kinship as a factor) would give more information about these larvae, allowing a better understanding of the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms behind the biological patterns observed in Leptodactylus species.
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