Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

James R Vonesh


Animals with complex life cycles can cope with environmental uncertainty by altering life history switch points through developmental plasticity. Pond drying is an important factor which may alter life history switch points in aquatic organisms. Many amphibians can plastically respond to changes in pond drying by emerging earlier, but few studies have examined the post-metamorphic consequences for performance. To investigate the potential carry-over effects of plasticity to pond drying, we studied the túngara frog, Physalaemus pustulosus, a tropical anuran that breeds in highly ephemeral habitats. We conducted a field study with three different water depth treatments in 60 L mesocosms and measured time and size at metamorphosis, hind limb length and jumping performance. We also conducted a complimentary laboratory study that manipulated resources and water depth. In the field experiment, metamorphs from dry-down treatments emerged earlier, but at a similar size to constant volume treatments. In the laboratory experiment, metamorphs from the low depth and dry-down treatments emerged both earlier and smaller. In both studies, frogs from dry-down treatments had relatively shorter hind limbs, which negatively impacted their jumping performance. Reductions in resources delayed and reduced size at metamorphosis, but had no effect on jumping performance. We demonstrate that conditions experienced early in ontogeny can transcend the metamorphic boundary by erasing the relationship between hind limb length and jumping performance.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2012