Influence of waterfalls on patterns of association between trout and Natal cascade frog Hadromophryne natalensis tadpoles in two headwater streams in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa

  • RJ Karssing
  • NA Rivers-Moore
  • K Slater

Abstract

Current literature suggests that little, if any, research has been conducted in South Africa to determine the impact of alien trout on indigenous amphibian biodiversity. The aim of this study was to establish whether waterfalls in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, South Africa, are seasonally important in conserving indigenous Natal cascade frog Hadromophryne natalensis tadpole populations from the threat of predation by alien rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and brown trout Salmo trutta at Injesuthi and Monk’s Cowl Nature Reserves, respectively. Relative abundances of trout and tadpoles of Natal cascade frogs were assessed after sampling using electrofishing. Habitat templates were compared for above- versus below-waterfall sites. Trout predation is the most likely causative agent for an observed abrupt decline in H. natalensis tadpole abundance occurring below waterfalls. Tadpole abundance in the study was reduced by a factor of 4.69 and 15.71 below the selected waterfalls at Injesuthi and Monk’s Cowl in association with O. mykiss and S. trutta populations, respectively.

Keywords: amphibians, electrofishing, natural barriers, predation

African Journal of Aquatic Science 2012, 37(1): 107–112

Author Biographies

RJ Karssing
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, PO Box 13053, Cascades 3202, South Africa
NA Rivers-Moore
Consulting Freshwater Ecologist, PO Box 152, Hilton 3245, South Africa
K Slater
Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, Department of Environmental Sciences, UNISA, Private Bag X6, Florida 1710, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914