The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2020 Impact Factor for the Herpetological Journal is 0.862

pdf 02.How does the feeding behaviour of the common forest toad Rhinella henseli (Anura: Bufonidae) vary in space and time? Trophic ecology, chemical and antimicrobial activity


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pp. 59-69

Authors: Douglas da Silva Huning, Fabiana Tonial, Mateus Oliveira, Noeli Zanella, Júlia de Moraes Brandalise , Kielli Guerra , Natália Ficanha & Carla Denise Tedesco

Abstract: Studies in trophic and chemical ecology, in particular in amphibians, have gained increasing attention in recent years, given that this is the vertebrate group that has suffered the greatest decline in recent years, caused by the degradation of natural ecosystems and emerging diseases. The assessment of food preferences and prey availability between areas and seasons provides important parameters for the understanding of the population dynamics of leaf-litter toads. The study of the secretions of the parotoid macroglands of these toads also provides insights into the role of these secretions in fighting frog pathogens and their potential applications to combat pathogens that are harmful to humans. In the present study, we describe the trophic ecology of Rhinella henseli (Lutz, 1934), and the variation in its diet between seasons and areas. We also attempt to identify the chemical composition of the secretions of the parotoid macrogland found in the parotoid glands and test their potential antimicrobial activity. We sampled two toad populations in the Atlantic Forest of southern Brazil. The composition of the diet was analysed by season (warm vs. cool) and study area, with the prey items being identified to genus, whenever possible, and classified using the Index of Relative Importance. The parotoid secretions were removed manually from the parotoid glands and analysed via HPLC-MS/MS. We ran microdilution and agar plug diffusion tests to assess antimicrobial activity. The principal prey of these toads are large ants, primarily Pachycondyla sp., which vary in abundance between seasons and, to a lesser extent, between areas. We identified 21 chemical compounds, primarily steroidal bufadienolides. One of the populations presented a subset of 14 of these 21 compounds, reflecting the variation in their spatial distribution. These compounds presented anti-pathogenic properties against Candida albicans and, to a lesser extent, Staphylococcus saprophyticus. Our results indicate that the diet of R. henseli varies significantly between areas and seasons, as do the secretions of their parotoid macroglands between areas. The toxins exhibit antimicrobial activity, although the compounds must be tested in isolation to confirm this.

Keywords: Ecochemistry, Niche breadth, Ground-dwelling toads, Ants, Bioprospecting

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

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