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Evaluating the reproductive cost of migration for females in a partially migrating pond-breeding amphibian


  • Editor: Tim Halliday

Kristine L. Grayson, Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22904, USA.


Populations of animals with resident and migratory individuals provide an ideal system for addressing questions concerning the evolution of migration. Partially migratory populations may persist because residents and migrants have equal fitness or because migration is based on conditional asymmetries. Studies measuring the costs and benefits of migration provide empirical data to test hypotheses concerning the maintenance of partial migration within a population. In this study, we measured the reproductive differences between resident and migrant females in a pond-breeding amphibian, the red-spotted newt Notophthalmus viridescens. We used large field enclosures to repeatedly sample egg laying over the prolonged breeding season of this species. Resident females did not lay a greater number of eggs or begin laying eggs earlier, despite beginning the breeding season earlier and having a higher mass than migrant newts. The only difference in reproduction we detected was that the eggs of resident females hatched into larger larvae compared with the larvae of migrant females. We discuss this result in the context of other potential trade-offs between residency and migration. This study illustrates the phenology of egg laying of N. viridescens and our results contribute to understanding the population dynamics of partially migratory species.

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