Evol Ecol Res 11: 803-815 (2009)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Effects of pond drying on morphological and life-history traits in the anuran Rhinella spinulosa (Anura: Bufonidae)

M. Márquez-García1, M. Correa-Solis1, M. Sallaberry2 and M.A. Méndez1,2

1Laboratorio de Genética y Evolución, INTA and  2Laboratorio de Zoología de Vertebrados, Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Correspondence: M.A. Méndez, Laboratorio de Genética y Evolución, INTA, Universisdad de Chile, Macul 5540, Casilla 138-11, Santiago, Chile.
e-mail: mmendez@inta.cl


Question: How does the duration of temporary ponds affect the morphological attributes and life-history traits of post-metamorphic amphibians?

Organism: The anuran Rhinella spinulosa of the Andes range of central Chile. This species reproduces in temporary and permanent ponds and is subject to different desiccation regimes.

Time and place: Between October 2006 and January 2007 near Farellones (33°20′S, 70°18′W; 2331 m above sea level).

Methods: A natural experiment in ponds with three desiccation regimes: (1) high, (2) medium, and (3) low. We measured life-history traits (development rate, metamorph size, and time to metamorphosis) in 252 individuals collected from each desiccation regime. Nine morphometric measurements were made on each toadlet collected.

Results: Tadpoles from ponds with high and medium desiccation reached metamorphosis at an earlier age and at a smaller size than individuals in the low desiccation regime. Post-metamorphic individuals from ponds with low desiccation also had longer hindlimbs and larger values for head measurements.

Conclusion: According to these results, environmental heterogeneity promotes phenotypic variation in both morphology and life-history traits in Rhinella spinulosa.

Keywords: development time, hydroperiod, metamorphosis size, natural experiment, pond desiccation, Rhinella spinulosa.

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