Skip to main content

Data from: Seasonal changes in diet and toxicity in the Climbing Mantella frog (Mantella laevigata)

Cite this dataset

Moskowitz, Nora A. et al. (2020). Data from: Seasonal changes in diet and toxicity in the Climbing Mantella frog (Mantella laevigata) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Poison frogs acquire chemical defenses from the environment for protection against potential predators. These defensive chemicals are lipophilic alkaloid toxins that are sequestered by poison frogs from dietary arthropods and stored in skin glands. Despite decades of research focusing on identifying poison frog toxins, we know relatively little about how environmental variation and subsequent arthropod availability impacts toxicity in poison frogs. We investigated how seasonal environmental variation influences poison frog toxin profiles through changes in the diet of the Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata). We collected M. laevigata females on the Nosy Mangabe island reserve in Madagascar during the wet and dry seasons and tested the hypothesis that seasonal differences in temperature and rainfall are associated with changes in the diet and skin toxin profiles of M. laevigata. The arthropod diet of each frog was characterized into five groups (i.e. ants, termites, mites, larvae and other) using visual identification and cytochrome oxidase 1 DNA barcoding. We found that frog diet differed between the wet and dry seasons, where frogs had a more diverse diet in the wet season and consumed a higher percentage of ants in the dry season. To determine if these differences in diet were associated with variation in frog defensive chemical composition, we used gas chromatography / mass spectrometry to quantify toxins from individual skin samples. Although the assortment of identified toxins was similar across seasons, we detected significant differences in the abundance of certain alkaloids, which we hypothesize reflects seasonal variation in the diet of M. laevigata. We suggest that tThese variations could originate from seasonal changes in either arthropod leaf litter composition or changes in frog behavioral patterns between wet and dry seasons. Although additional studies are needed to understand the consequences of long-term environmental shifts, this work suggests that toxin profiles are relatively robust against short-term environmental perturbations.

Usage notes

Frog stomach content specimen photos


Frog skin GCMS data



Nosy Mangabe reserve - Madagascar