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Assay to assess predator avoidance behaviors in tadpoles of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis)

Glotfelty, Emily
An animal's behavioral response to various sensory inputs affects survival probability. Aquatic species have a lateral line system that provides information on water wave disturbances through receptor cells called neuromasts. I conducted this study to test a modified behavioral assay from Claas and Dean (2006) with Xenopus laevis tadpoles as a model species. Intensity of behavioral response to an air puff stimulus was recorded for 45 tadpoles staged 51-54 (Nieuwkoop and Faber, 1994) for 0.5 centimeter height intervals spanning from the surface of the water up to 7 centimeters above the surface of the water. A response threshold was at 5 centimeters above the surface of the water for 44 of the 45 tadpoles with response intensity decreasing steadily as stimulus height increased. The behavioral assay was predictable and repeatable for the X. laevis tadpoles and provided a pattern of behavioral responses that can be used to understand movement decisions linked to survival probability.