Interfamily variation in amphibian early life-history traits: raw material for natural selection?

Authors

  • Gareth R. Hopkins,

    1. Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
    2. The Ecology Center, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
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  • Brian G. Gall,

    1. Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
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  • Susannah S. French,

    1. Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
    2. The Ecology Center, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
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  • Edmund D. Brodie Jr.

    1. Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
    2. The Ecology Center, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
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  • Funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Department of Biology, Utah State University.

Gareth R. Hopkins, Department of Biology, Utah State University, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322. Tel: +1 435 881 4696; Fax: +1 435 797 1575; E-mail: gareth.hopkins@usu.edu

Abstract

The embryonic development and time to hatching of eggs can be highly adaptive in some species, and thus under selective pressure. In this study, we examined the underlying interfamily variation in hatching timing and embryonic development in a population of an oviparous amphibian, the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). We found significant, high variability in degree of embryonic development and hatching timing among eggs from different females. Patterns of variation were present regardless of temperature. We also could not explain the differences among families by morphological traits of the females or their eggs. This study suggests that the variation necessary for natural selection to act upon is present in the early life history of this amphibian.

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