The shape of things to come: linking developmental plasticity to post-metamorphic morphology in anurans


Ivan Gomez-Mestre, Instituto Cantábrico de Biodiversidad, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo E-33006, Spain.
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Development consists of growth and differentiation, which can be partially decoupled and can be affected by environmental factors to different extents. In amphibians, variation in the larval environment influences development and causes changes in post-metamorphic shape. We examined post-metamorphic consequences, both morphological and locomotory, of alterations in growth and development. We reared tadpoles of two phylogenetically and ecologically distant frog species (the red-eyed treefrog Agalychnis callidryas and the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis) under different temperatures with ad libitum food supply and under different food levels at a constant temperature. Low temperature and low food levels both resulted in similarly extended larval periods. However, low temperature yielded relatively long-legged frogs with a lower degree of ossification than warm temperature, whereas low food yielded relatively short-legged frogs with a higher degree of ossification than high food levels. Such allometric differences had no effect on locomotor performance of juveniles. Our results provide a basis for understanding the relationship between growth, differentiation and post-metamorphic shape in anurans and help explain many of the discrepancies reported in previous studies.