Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 939–948 | Cite as

Coqui frog invasions change invertebrate communities in Hawaii

  • Ryan T. Choi
  • Karen H. Beard
Original Paper


The Puerto Rican coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) invaded Hawaii in the late 1980s. Because the coqui reaches high densities and consumes large quantities of invertebrates, it was hypothesized to change invertebrate communities where it invades. Previous research found that coquis can change invertebrate communities, but these studies used highly manipulative, small-scale experiments. The objective of this research was to determine whether coquis create community-level changes in invertebrate communities at the landscape scale. We collected leaf litter, flying, and foliage invertebrates on both sides of 15 coqui invasion fronts across the island of Hawaii. Multivariate analyses show that coquis are associated with changes in leaf-litter communities, primarily reductions in Acari, but are not associated with overall changes in flying or foliage communities. Across sites, coquis reduced the total number of leaf-litter invertebrates by 27%, specifically by reducing Acari by 36%. Across sites, coquis increased flying Diptera by 19%. Changes were greater where coqui densities were higher. We suggest that coquis changed leaf-litter communities primarily through direct predation, but that they increased Diptera through the addition of frog carcasses and excrement. Results support previous studies conducted in more controlled settings, but add to our understanding of the invasion by showing that coqui effects on invertebrate communities are measurable at the landscape scale.


Amphibian Anuran Community impacts Eleutherodactylus coqui Invasive species Non-native species 



This research was supported by USDA/APHIS National Wildlife Research Center, and the Jack H. Berryman Institute and Ecology Center at Utah State University. We thank F. Nebenburgh and J. Chaney for field and lab assistance; W. Pitt for providing field and logistical assistance; S. Durham for statistical advice; D. Koons and E. White for comments and suggestions on the manuscript; and A. Rayburn for help with figures. We also thank private landowners who generously granted us access to their properties.


  1. Anderson MJ (2001) A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Aust Ecol 26:32–46Google Scholar
  2. Barber NA, Marquis RJ, Tori WP (2008) Invasive prey impacts the abundance and distribution of native predators. Ecology 89:2678–2683PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beard KH (2007) Diet of the invasive frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui, in Hawaii. Copeia 2:281–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beard KH, Pitt WC (2005) Potential consequences of the coqui frog invasion in Hawaii. Divers Distrib 11:427–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beard KH, Vogt KA, Kulmatiski A (2002) Top-down effects of a terrestrial frog on nutrient concentrations in a subtropical forest. Oecologia 133:583–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beard KH, Eschtruth AK, Vogt KA, Vogt DJ, Scatena FN (2003) The effects of the frog Eleutherodactylus coqui on invertebrates and ecosystem processes at two scales in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. J Trop Ecol 19:607–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beard KH, Al-Chokhachy R, Tuttle NC, O’Neill EM (2008) Population density estimates and growth rates of Eleutherodactylus coqui in Hawaii. J Herpetol 42:626–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Beard KH, Price EA, Pitt WC (2009) Biology and impacts of Pacific Island invasive species: Eleutherodactylus coqui, the coqui frog (Anura: Leptodactylidae). Pac Sci 63:297–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buckland ST, Anderson DR, Burnham KP, Laake JL, Borchers DL, Thomas L (2001) Introduction to distance sampling: estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Buckley YM, Rees M, Sheppard AW, Smyth MJ (2005) Stable coexistence of an invasive plant and biocontrol agent: a parameterized coupled plant-herbivore model. J Appl Ecol 42:70–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Catling PC, Hertog A, Burt RJ, Wombey JC, Forrester RI (1999) The short-term effect of cane toads (Bufo marinus) on native fauna in the gulf country of the Northern Territory. Wildl Res 26:161–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Clavero M, Garcia-Berthou E (2005) Invasive species are a leading cause of animal extinctions. Trends Ecol Evolut 20:110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen AN, Carlton JT (1998) Accelerating invasion rate in a highly invaded estuary. Science 279:555–558PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doody JS, Green B, Sims R, Rhind D, West P, Steer D (2006) Indirect impacts of invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) on nest predation in pig-nosed turtles (Carettochelys insculpta). Wildl Res 33:349–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fogarty JH, Vilella FJ (2001) Evaluating methodologies to survey Eleutherodactylus frogs in montane forests of Puerto Rico. Wildl Soc B 29:948–955Google Scholar
  16. Fritts TH, Rodda GH (1998) The role of introduced species in the degradation of island ecosystems: a case history of Guam. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 29:113–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gonser RA, Woolbright LL (1995) Homing behavior of the Puerto Rican frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui. J Herpetol 29:481–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greenlees MJ, Brown GP, Webb JK, Phillips BL, Shine R (2006) Effects of an invasive anuran [the cane toad (Bufo marinus)] on the invertebrate fauna of a tropical Australian floodplain. Anim Conserv 9:431–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Howarth FG, Mull WP (1992) Hawaiian insects and their kin. University of Hawaii Press, HonoluluGoogle Scholar
  20. Kiesecker JM, Blaustein AR (1998) Effects of introduced bullfrogs and smallmouth bass on microhabitat use, growth, and survival of native red-legged frogs (Rana aurora). Conserv Biol 12:776–787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kraus F (2009) Alien reptiles and amphibians: a scientific compendium and analysis. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Kraus F, Campbell EW (2002) Human-mediated escalation of a formerly eradicable problem: the invasion of Caribbean frogs in the Hawaiian Islands. Biol Invasions 4:327–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kraus F, Campbell EW, Allison A, Pratt T (1999) Eleutherodactylus frog introductions to Hawaii. Herpetol Rev 30:21–25Google Scholar
  24. Krushelnycky PD, Gillespie RG (2010) Sampling across space and time to validate natural experiments: an example with ant invasions in Hawaii. Biol Invasions 12:643–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lafferty KD, Page CJ (1997) Predation on the endangered tidewater goby, Eucyclogobius newberryi, by the introduced African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, with notes on the frog’s parasites. Copeia 3:589–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lodge DM (1993) Biological invasions: lessons for ecology. Trends Ecol Evolut 8:133–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morrison LW (2002) Long-term impacts of an arthropod-community invasion by the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Ecology 83:2337–2345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nullet D, Sanderson M (1993) Radiation and energy balances and air temperatures. In: Sanderson M (ed) Prevailing trade winds: weather and climate in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, pp 37–55Google Scholar
  29. O’Hara RB, Kotze J (2010) Do not log-transform count data. Methods Ecol Evol 1:118–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Oksanen J, Kindt R, Legendre P, O’Hara B, Simpson GL, Stevens M (2008) Vegan: community ecology package. R package version 2.7.1Google Scholar
  31. Perotti MA, Braig HR, Goff ML (2010) Phoretic mites and carcasses: acari transported by organisms associated with animal and human decomposition. In: Amendt J, Campobasso CP, Goff ML, Grassberger M (eds) Current concepts in forensic entomology. Springer, London, pp 69–91Google Scholar
  32. Phillips BL, Brown GP, Shine R (2003) Assessing the potential impact of cane toads on Australian snakes. Conserv Biol 17:1738–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Porter SD, Savignano DA (1990) Invasion of polygyne fire ants decimates native ants and disrupts arthropod community. Ecology 71:2095–2106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Price S (1983) Climate. In: Armstrong RW (ed) Atlas of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, pp 59–66Google Scholar
  35. Roemer GW, Donlan CJ, Courchamp F (2002) Golden eagles, feral pigs, and insular carnivores: how exotic species turn native predators into prey. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 99:791–796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stewart MM, Woolbright LL (1996). Amphibians. In: Reagan DP, Waide RB (eds) The food web of a tropical rain forest. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 273–320Google Scholar
  37. Sanders NJ, Gotelli NJ, Heller NE, Gordon DM (2003) Community disassembly by an invasive species. Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 100:2474–2477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sin H, Beard KH, Pitt WC (2008) An invasive frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui, increases new leaf litter production and leaf litter decomposition rates through nutrient cycling in Hawaii. Biol Invasions 10:335–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Thomas L, Buckland ST, Rexstad EA, Laake JL, Strindberg S, Hedley SL, Bishop JRB, Marques TA, Burnham KP (2010) Distance software: design and analysis of distance sampling surveys for estimating population size. J Appl Ecol 47:5–14Google Scholar
  40. Trusdell FA, Wolfe EW, Morris J (2005) Digital database of the geologic map of the Island of Hawai’i. US geological survey data series 144Google Scholar
  41. Tuttle NC, Beard KH, Pitt WC (2009) Invasive litter, not an invasive insectivore, determines invertebrate communities in Hawaiian forests. Biol Invasions 11:845–855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Woolbright LL (1985) Patterns of nocturnal movement and calling by the tropical frog Eleutherodactylus coqui. Herpetologica 41:1–9Google Scholar
  43. Woolbright LL (2005) A plot-based system of collecting population information on terrestrial breeding frogs. Herpetol Rev 36:139–142Google Scholar
  44. Woolbright LL, Stewart MM (1987) Foraging success of the tropical frog, Eleutherodactylus coqui: the cost of calling. Copeia 1:69–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Woolbright LL, Hara AH, Jacobsen CM, Mautz WL, Benevides FL Jr (2006) Population densities of the coqui, Eleutherodactylus coqui (Anura: Leptodactylidae), in newly invaded Hawaii and in native Puerto Rico. J Herpetol 40:122–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildland Resources and the Ecology CenterUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations