Variations in life-history traits in the common frog Rana temporaria (Amphibia: Anura): a literature review and new data from the French Alps


*All correspondence to: C. Miaud. E-mail:


Life-history traits of Rana temporaria were studied in an alpine French population and in the literature. In the living frogs, mean adult body length was greater in females than in males. Sexual dimorphism in body length was 0.109 using Lovich & Gibbon's (1992) formula, but tended to decrease with age. Age of adult frogs was assessed by skeletochronology, and age distribution was not significantly different between the sexes (range 4–15 years in males, 5–12 in females). Adult survival rate was about 0.80 in both sexes. Once maturity was reached, the total expected longevity was 6.1 years in males and 5.5 years in females. Age and body length were positively correlated in both sexes. The growth coefficient (K) was 0.47 in males, and 0.55 in females, mainly reflected as faster female growth between metamorphosis and maturation. Growth rate generally decreased before sexual maturity was reached. On average, females matured 1 year later than males. Newly metamorphosed froglets averaged 16.1 mm. When combined with published data from 12 European populations of R. temporaria, the following general patterns emerge. Mean adult body length is significantly greater in females than in males, and mean body length at maturity shows the same trend. Variation in mean age at maturity and in longevity are considerable among populations, but there is no consistent trend of difference between the sexes. Body length and age are correlated between males and females, i.e. populations with long and old males also have long and old females. Mean adult body length, mean body length at maturity, age at maturity, and longevity all increase with decreasing activity period. Adults exposed to a short activity period grow slower but attain a greater final length. Sexual dimorphism in body length generally increases as activity period gets shorter. Polygons describing norms of reaction for maturation in an age–body length space are similarly oriented in both sexes, but with a wider range in age for females. This is due to an older age at maturity for females in populations with a short activity season. Mean age and length at maturity are significantly correlated in females, but not in males, partly supporting the hypothesis that this species has a flexible pattern of development. Observed patterns are compared with predictions from life-history theory, paying attention to all life stages and environmental variation.