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Patterns of natural selection on size at metamorphosis in water frogs.


Altwegg, R; Reyer, H U (2003). Patterns of natural selection on size at metamorphosis in water frogs. Evolution, 57(4):872-882.

Abstract

Strategies for optimal metamorphosis are key adaptations in organisms with complex life cycles, and the components of the larval growth environment causing variation in this trait are well studied empirically and theoretically. However, when relating these findings to a broader evolutionary or ecological context, usually the following assumptions are made: (1) size at metamorphosis positively relates to future fitness, and (2) the larval growth environment affects fitness mainly through its effect on timing of and size at metamorphosis. These assumptions remain poorly tested, because data on postmetamorphic fitness components are still rare. We created variation in timing of and size at metamorphosis by manipulating larval competition, nonlethal presence of predators, pond drying, and onset of larval development, and measured the consequences for subsequent terrestrial survival and growth in 1564 individually marked water frogs (Rana lessonae and R. esculenta), raised in enclosures in their natural environment. Individuals metamorphosing at a large size had an increased chance of survival during the following terrestrial stage (mean linear selection gradient: 0.09), grew faster and were larger at maturity than individuals metamorphosing at smaller sizes. Late metamorphosing individuals had a lower survival rate (mean linear selection gradient: -0.03) and grew more slowly than early metamorphosing ones. We found these patterns to be consistent over the three years of the study and the two species, and the results did not depend on the nature of the larval growth manipulation. Furthermore, individuals did not compensate for a small size at metamorphosis by enhancing their postmetamorphic growth. Thus, we found simple relationships between larval growth and postmetamorphic fitness components, and support for this frequently made assumption. Our results suggest postmetamorphic selection for fast larval growth and provide a quantitative estimate for the water frog example.

Strategies for optimal metamorphosis are key adaptations in organisms with complex life cycles, and the components of the larval growth environment causing variation in this trait are well studied empirically and theoretically. However, when relating these findings to a broader evolutionary or ecological context, usually the following assumptions are made: (1) size at metamorphosis positively relates to future fitness, and (2) the larval growth environment affects fitness mainly through its effect on timing of and size at metamorphosis. These assumptions remain poorly tested, because data on postmetamorphic fitness components are still rare. We created variation in timing of and size at metamorphosis by manipulating larval competition, nonlethal presence of predators, pond drying, and onset of larval development, and measured the consequences for subsequent terrestrial survival and growth in 1564 individually marked water frogs (Rana lessonae and R. esculenta), raised in enclosures in their natural environment. Individuals metamorphosing at a large size had an increased chance of survival during the following terrestrial stage (mean linear selection gradient: 0.09), grew faster and were larger at maturity than individuals metamorphosing at smaller sizes. Late metamorphosing individuals had a lower survival rate (mean linear selection gradient: -0.03) and grew more slowly than early metamorphosing ones. We found these patterns to be consistent over the three years of the study and the two species, and the results did not depend on the nature of the larval growth manipulation. Furthermore, individuals did not compensate for a small size at metamorphosis by enhancing their postmetamorphic growth. Thus, we found simple relationships between larval growth and postmetamorphic fitness components, and support for this frequently made assumption. Our results suggest postmetamorphic selection for fast larval growth and provide a quantitative estimate for the water frog example.

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283 citations in Web of Science®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
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:2003
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0014-3820
Related URLs:http://evol.allenpress.com/evolonline/?request=get-abstract&issn=0014-3820&volume=057&issue=04&page=0872
PubMed ID:12778556
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-725

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