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Amphibian phenotypic variation along a gradient in canopy cover: species differences and plasticity


Van Buskirk, J (2011). Amphibian phenotypic variation along a gradient in canopy cover: species differences and plasticity. Oikos, 120(6):906-914.

Abstract

Th e distributions of many freshwater organisms correlate with a gradient in canopy cover, ranging from sunny wetlands to
closed woodland ponds. Little is known about mechanisms that exclude species from some sections of the gradient while
allowing persistence in others. I addressed this question by manipulating shading in 740-l outdoor mesocosms and measuring
several ecologically-relevant traits in three species of amphibian larva ( Rana temporaria and Triturus alpestris , generalists
occupying the entire gradient; and Hyla arborea , a specialist in open habitats). Shading caused delayed development, but
had no eff ect on survival and increased the growth rate of R. temporaria . Body and tail color were darker in the shade. Plasticity
in morphological shape, consisting of reduced gut width and increased tail size under shaded conditions, may refl ect
poor food availability and low dissolved oxygen. Th e canopy generalist R. temporaria increased activity in the shade, spent
more time basking in shallow water, and maintained high larval performance. Unexpectedly, the specialist H. arborea was
also highly plastic. Th ese results describe extensive phenotypic plasticity induced by shade, and highlight traits that may
infl uence performance along the canopy gradient.

Abstract

Th e distributions of many freshwater organisms correlate with a gradient in canopy cover, ranging from sunny wetlands to
closed woodland ponds. Little is known about mechanisms that exclude species from some sections of the gradient while
allowing persistence in others. I addressed this question by manipulating shading in 740-l outdoor mesocosms and measuring
several ecologically-relevant traits in three species of amphibian larva ( Rana temporaria and Triturus alpestris , generalists
occupying the entire gradient; and Hyla arborea , a specialist in open habitats). Shading caused delayed development, but
had no eff ect on survival and increased the growth rate of R. temporaria . Body and tail color were darker in the shade. Plasticity
in morphological shape, consisting of reduced gut width and increased tail size under shaded conditions, may refl ect
poor food availability and low dissolved oxygen. Th e canopy generalist R. temporaria increased activity in the shade, spent
more time basking in shallow water, and maintained high larval performance. Unexpectedly, the specialist H. arborea was
also highly plastic. Th ese results describe extensive phenotypic plasticity induced by shade, and highlight traits that may
infl uence performance along the canopy gradient.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:27 Jul 2011 12:06
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:57
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0030-1299
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2010.18845.x

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