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Comparative life histories of a low- and a high-elevation population of the common frog Rana temporaria

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Common frogs from a breeding pond in the Swiss Alps (1930 m) were studied by skeletochronology and life history traits were compared to a previously described lowland population. Snout-vent lengths ranged from 63 to 85 mm (males) and 65 to 94 mm (females). Ages varied from 4 to 13 years with means of 6.6 (males) and 8.3 years (females). Growth of immature frogs was slow. Immature males grew faster than females, but the reverse was true for adult frogs. Egg numbers ranged from 784 to 1616 and were not correlated with snout-vent length. Egg diameters (1.83-2.19 mm) were positively correlated with snout-vent length. Frogs from the Alps differed from the lowland population in slower growth to maturation, resulting in higher ages, but similar sizes, at first reproduction. I argue that the alpine life history pattern was shaped by two environmentally determined traits, slow growth and high annual survival.

Affiliations: 1: Zoologisches Institut, Universität Bern, Baltzerstr. 3, 3012 Bern, Switzerland


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