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Keywords:

  • collapse;
  • decline;
  • life history;
  • Litoria raniformis;
  • metapopulation

Abstract

A popular idea amongst ecologists last century was that animals which exploit dynamic environments often display ‘fast’ life history strategies (high fecundity, rapid growth and maturation, and low or variable adult survival rates) relative to those which occupy more stable environments. Whilst the underlying theory has been discredited, the categorization remains of interest, because species with ‘fast’ life history traits are thought to be more robust to human-induced environmental change than those with ‘slow’ life history traits. We examined the life history traits of the endangered Australian frog Litoria raniformis, to determine whether it displays ‘fast’ life history traits (like its sister species L. aurea and L. castanea), and to assess the role of these traits in the decline of this species. Mark-recapture data confirmed that L. raniformis displays rapid growth and maturation. The data also suggest that L. raniformis displays relatively low adult survival rates. We propose that the ‘fast’ life history traits of this species are adaptive to metapopulation dynamics. In turn, we suggest that the rapid decline of L. raniformis may have resulted from metapopulation collapse, driven ultimately by habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and proximately by severe stochastic perturbations.