Phenotypic plasticity of anuran larvae: environmental variables influence body shape and oral morphology in Rana temporaria tadpoles


*All correspondence to: M. Vences. Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum A. Koenig, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany. E-mail:


Environmental variables shaped the morphology of tadpoles of the common frog, Rana temporaria, in various ways at the Pyrenean locality Circo de Piedrafita. Examining only specimens in similar developmental stages, those from small ponds (with higher temperature and higher tadpole density) had lower growth rates, lower relative tail height, lower relative body width and fewer labial keratodonts and keratodont rows. The variation in keratodonts may have been caused by heterochrony related to the slower growth rate. The number of lingual papillae also differed between ponds but was not related to pond size. Higher predator densities caused a higher percentage of damaged tails and a lower relative tail length in specimens with apparently intact tails, probably as a result of incomplete regeneration after mutilations earlier in development.