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Demographic life history traits of reproductive natterjack toads (Bufo calamita) vary between northern and southern latitudes

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Demographic life history traits were investigated in three Bufo calamita populations in Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate: Urmitz, 50°N; 1998-2000) and Spain (Catalonia: Balaguer, Mas de Melons, 41°N; 2004). We used skeletochronology to estimate the age as number of lines of arrested growth in breeding adults collected during the spring breeding period (all localities) and during the summer breeding period (only Urmitz). A data set including the variables sex, age and size of 185 males and of 87 females was analyzed with respect to seven life history traits (age and size at maturity of the youngest first breeders, age variation in first breeders, longevity, potential reproductive lifespan, median lifespan, age-size relationship). Spring and summer cohorts at the German locality differed with respect to longevity and potential reproductive lifespan by one year in favour of the early breeders. The potential consequences on fitness and stability of cohorts are discussed. Latitudinal variation of life history traits was mainly limited to female natterjacks in which along a south-north gradient longevity and potential reproductive lifespan increased while size decreased. These results and a review of published information on natterjack demography suggest that lifetime number of offspring seem to be optimized by locally different trade-offs: large female size at the cost of longevity in southern populations and increased longevity at the cost of size in northern ones.


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