Effects of temperature and food quality on anuran larval growth and metamorphosis


†Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: agnic@correo.uniovi.es


  • 1Anurans exhibit high levels of growth-mediated phenotypic plasticity in age and size at metamorphosis. Although temperature and food quality exert a strong influence on larval growth, little is known about the interacting effects of these factors on age and size at metamorphosis.
  • 2Plasticity in growth rates, maximum larval mass, mass loss, larval period and size at metamorphosis was examined in Iberian Painted Frogs (Discoglossus galganoi Capula, Nascetti, Lanza, Bullini & Crespo 1985) under different combinations of temperature and diet quality.
  • 3Temperature and diet had strong effects on the maximum size reached by tadpoles throughout the premetamorphic stages. Larval body mass varied inversely with temperature. The effect of diet depended on temperature; larvae fed on a ‘carnivorous’ diet (rich in protein and lipids) achieved a larger size than larvae offered an ‘herbivorous’ diet (rich in carbohydrates) at 17 °C but not at 12 or 22 °C.
  • 4Larval period was insensitive to diet composition, and varied only with temperature. Primarily the interacting effects of food quality and temperature affected size at metamorphosis. Size at metamorphosis varied inversely with temperature under the plant- and the animal-based diets. However, the carnivorous diet resulted in bigger metamorphs at 17 and 22 °C, but did not influence final mass at 12 °C. Maximum size over the larval period explained most of the variation in mass loss after the premetamorphic growing phase.