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April 2016


Many animals with complex life cycles can cope with environmental uncertainty by altering the timing of life history switch points through plasticity. Pond hydroperiod has important consequences for the fitness of aquatic organisms and many taxa alter the timing of life history switch points in response to habitat desiccation. For example, larval amphibians can metamorphose early to escape drying ponds. Such plasticity may induce variation in size and morphology of juveniles which can result in carry-over effects on jumping performance. To investigate the carry-over effects of metamorphic plasticity to pond drying, we studied the Túngara frog,Physalaemus pustulosus, a tropical anuran that breeds in highly ephemeral habitats. We conducted an outdoor field mesocosm experiment in which we manipulated water depth and desiccation and measured time and size at metamorphosis, tibiofibula length and jumping performance. We also conducted a complimentary laboratory experiment in which we manipulated resources, water depth and desiccation. In the field experiment, metamorphs from dry-down treatments emerged earlier, but at a similar size to metamorphs from constant depth treatments. In the laboratory experiment, metamorphs from the low depth and dry-down treatments emerged earlier and smaller. In both experiments, frogs from dry-down treatments had relatively shorter legs, which negatively impacted their absolute jumping performance. In contrast, reductions in resources delayed and reduced size at metamorphosis, but had no negative effect on jumping performance. To place these results in a broader context, we review past studies on carry-over effects of the larval environment on jumping performance. Reductions in mass and limb length generally resulted in lower jumping performance across juvenile anurans tested to date. Understanding the consequences of plasticity on size, morphology and performance can elucidate the linkages between life stages.


Copyright © 2015 Charbonnier and Vonesh.

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VCU Biology Publications

larvalgrowth.PDF (143 kB)
Effect of water and resource manipulations on larval growth

Supp1_Table_Charbonnier.docx (17 kB)
Table listing studies and contributing effect sizes to the meta-analysis

Supp2-_PRISMA_2009_Flow_Diagram_Charbonnier.pdf (230 kB)
PRISMA Flow Diagram

Figure4_outliers.PDF (236 kB)
Supplemental version of Figure 4 including the three outlier data points

Supp4_Prisma_checklist.doc (63 kB)
PRISMA 2009 Checklist

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