Evol Ecol Res 8: 1139-1154 (2006)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

A comparative analysis of the adaptive developmental plasticity hypothesis in six Mediterranean anuran species along a pond permanency gradient

Alex Richter-Boix,* Gustavo A. Llorente and Albert Montori

Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 645, E-08028 Barcelona, Spain

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: arichterboix@ub.edu


Question: Is developmental phenotypic plasticity an adaptive trait and therefore more flexible in variable and unpredictable environments?

Organism: The anuran larvae community encompassing Alytes obstetricans, Pelodytes punctatus, Bufo bufo, B. calamita, Hyla meridionalis, and Rana perezi.

Methods: In the field, we examined the ecological breadth (spatial and temporal variability) of the six species along a pond permanency gradient in 240 ponds. In the laboratory, we measured developmental plasticity (time to and size at metamorphosis) of each species using two treatments: (1) constant water level and (2) drying treatment. A comparative analysis was undertaken of developmental plasticity and the function of species ecological breadth and their phylogenetic relationship.

Results: Species that use a wide variety of habitats or unpredictable environments showed a greater plasticity of responses than those occurring in predictable habitats. At the two extremes of the hydroperiod (ephemeral and permanent ponds), specialist developmental phenotypes with limited plasticity occur, whereas species from variable habitats (temporary ponds) can be considered plastic strategists with asymmetric bet-hedging. Our results support the hypothesis that interspecific differences in developmental phenotypic plasticity are adaptive and are related to ecological breadth and unpredictability.

Keywords: habitat desiccation, metamorphosis, phenotypic plasticity, tadpoles.

IF you are connected using the IP of a subscribing institution (library, laboratory, etc.)
or through its VPN.


        © 2006 Alex Richter-Boix. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

       Subscribing institutions/libraries may grant individuals the privilege of making a single copy of an EER article for non-commercial educational or non-commercial research purposes. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also use articles for non-commercial educational purposes by making any number of copies for course packs or course reserve collections. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also loan single copies of articles to non-commercial libraries for educational purposes.

       All copies of abstracts and articles must preserve their copyright notice without modification.