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The effect of water level reduction on larval duration in the red-crowned toadlet Pseudophryne australis (Anura: Myobatrachidae): Bet-hedging or predictive plasticity?

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Field observations indicate that when faced with the desiccation of their ephemeral ponds, the tadpoles of Pseudophryne australis, a semi-endotrophic myobatrachid frog, do not accelerate metamorphosis, and total reproductive losses are a frequent event. In this experiment we tested whether tadpoles were able to accelerate developmental rates when subjected to a decline in the water level. Tadpoles were divided into three treatments: water was held either at a constant level, or was removed at a slow or a fast rate. There were no significant differences in the mean length of larval duration in the three groups, and the distribution of ages at metamorphosis was asynchronous in all treatments. Metamorphosis first started at day 39 and continued in similar proportions up to day 57 in all treatments, after which a higher proportion of tadpoles from the desiccation treatments metamorphosed than in the constant deep-water group. This trend was reflected in statistically significant, but minor differences in developmental stage between treatments. These results suggest a combination of diversified bet-hedging and predictive plasticity. There was a significant positive relationship between age and weight at metamorphosis.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853806776052137
2006-03-01
2016-12-05

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