Effects of body size and timing of reproduction on reproductive success in female natterjack toads (Bufo calamita)

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Abstract

This study estimated variability in components of reproductive success in female natterjack toads (Bufo calamita, Laurenti, 1768) as a function of their body size and timing of reproduction. Two components of reproductive success were analysed: fecundity and metamorphic success. Fecundity, as a function of body size, tended to increase exponentially. Age had a negligible effect once body size was statistically controlled. Egg size was also related to female body size but showed greater variation. Metamorphic success depended on the timing of reproduction. Later breeders suffered an exponential decline in metamorphic success because females spawned at recently-filled ponds of ephemeral duration. Since female body size decreased as the breeding season progressed, it may be inferred that larger, early-breeding females would have a differential reproductive success. The inverse relationship between the timing of reproduction and body size may be based on the energetic physiology of vitellogenesis, and on the potential trade-offs between the allocation of energy to growth—higher in smaller females—and reproduction.

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