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Age structure, size and growth rate of water frogs from central European natural Pelophylax ridibundus-Pelophylax esculentus mixed populations estimated by skeletochronology

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Central European water frog Pelophylax esculentus (formerly known as Rana esculenta) is a natural hybrid between P. lessonae and P. ridibundus. The hybrids reproduce by hybridogenesis and usually share populations with one of the parental species. Natural ridibundus-esculentus (R-E) mixed populations are rare. The population described herein is composed of 80% P. ridibundus and 20% P. esculentus represented by both sexes. We analyzed 159 adults and 228 juveniles. Age of adults collected from breeding sites ranged from 2 to 6 years in males and from 3 to 7 years in females of both taxa. The percentage of individuals older than 5 years was low. Average age of P. ridibundus was higher than that of P. esculentus. In P. ridibundus the average age of females was higher than that of males. In P. esculentus the difference between ages of females and males was not significant. Measurements of yearly radial growth of long bones revealed that the frogs grew intensively before reaching sexual maturity (3 years for females and 2 years for males). In the group of juveniles before I hibernation, P. esculentus were significantly bigger than P. ridibundus, however, there was no difference in body size between both taxa after I hibernation i.e., before the start of a new growth season. Mean LAG-1 diameters were significantly greater in adults P. ridibundus than in juveniles after I hibernation, but not in P. esculentus.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Human Biology and Ecology, University School of Physical Education in Wrocław, Al. I. J. Paderewskiego 35, 51-612 Wrocław, Poland; 2: Department of Biology and Conservation of Vertebrates, Zoological Institute, University of Wrocław, ul. Sienkiewicza 21, 50-335 Wrocław, Poland;, Email:


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