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Reproductive biology of the parsley frog, Pelodytes punctatus, at the northernmost part of its range

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The reproductive biology and population dynamics of Pelodytes punctatus were studied at the breeding season over a three year period in a coastal dune system located at the extreme northwestern border of the species' range. Adult population size estimates ranged from about 100 in the first year to 60 in the third year. Males were remarkably sedentary near the pond under artificially provided shelters. Many were observed during the most of the breeding season which lasted from mid-March or the end of March to the end of April or mid-May. Most spawning took place in the second half of March or early April. In two years out of three a second period of spawning involving fewer animals was observed in the first half of May. Both periods of spawning coincided with, or shortly followed, periods of rising median air temperature. Egg-clutches were deposited in the deepest parts of pond, mainly on submerged vegetation not reaching the surface. An average sized clutch contained approximately 360 eggs. Development of the embryos until hatching took from 4 to 14 days, depending on the ambient temperature. Larval development and growth were fast. Recently metamorphosed froglets at a size of around 18 mm were found from the end of May onwards. Juveniles may reach adult size in the autumn of the year that they were born. Adult frogs did not show a strong fidelity to the breeding pond between years. In the study area the population structure of Pelodytes punctatus seems to be best described by a source - sink model in which flourishing populations in the dunes give rise to short lived satellite populations outside the dunes.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Taxonomic Zoology, University of Amsterdam, Mauritskade 57, P.O. Box 4766, 1009 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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