Evol Ecol Res 8: 309-320 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Effects of phenotypic plasticity on post-metamorphic traits during pre-metamorphic stages in the anuran Pelodytes punctatus

Alex Richter-Boix,* Gustavo A. Llorente and Albert Montori

Departamento Biologia Animal, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: arichterboix@ub.edu


Question: In organisms with a complex life cycle, are stages phenotypically coupled or does metamorphosis break all developmental links?

Hypothesis: For those organisms with developmental phenotypic plasticity, if metamorphosis does not break all developmental links, then changes in juvenile performance will occur as a cost of phenotypic plasticity.

Organism: The anuran Pelodytes punctatus from the north-east Iberian Peninsula.

Methods: Two experimental treatments: (1) constant water level and (2) drying treatment. Larvae phenotypic plasticity was measured using morphological and life-history (time to and mass at metamorphosis) traits. After metamorphosis, toadlet morphology and its jump capacity were measured in both treatments.

Results: Tadpoles in the drying treatment accelerated metamorphosis and reached this stage with a lower body mass. They also showed a reduced tail fin during the larval phase. Toadlets in the drying treatment showed shorter and less muscular hind limbs and a reduced jump capacity compared with individuals in the constant water treatment independently of time of development.

Keywords: habitat desiccation, metamorphosis, morphology, phenotypic plasticity, tadpoles.

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