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Keywords:

  • amphibia;
  • brain size;
  • competition;
  • metamorphosis;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • predation;
  • tadpole

Abstract

Brain development shows high plasticity in response to environmental heterogeneity. However, it is unknown how environmental variation during development may affect brain architecture across life history switch points in species with complex life cycles. Previously, we showed that predation and competition affect brain development in common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles. Here, we studied whether larval environment had carry-over effects in brains of metamorphs. Tadpoles grown at high density had large optic tecta at metamorphosis, whereas tadpoles grown under predation risk had small diencephala. We found that larval density had a carry-over effect on froglet optic tectum size, whereas the effect of larval predation risk had vanished by metamorphosis. We discuss the possibility that the observed changes may be adaptive, reflecting the needs of an organism in given environmental and developmental contexts.