, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 579-586

Maternal effects on offspring growth and development depend on environmental quality in the frogBombina orientalis

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Summary

Differences in maternal investment and initial offspring size can have important consequences for offspring growth and development. To examine the effects of initial size variability in the frogBombina orientalis, we reared larvae (N=360) in one of two treatments representing different levels of environmental quality. We used snout-vent length at the feeding stage (stage 25, Gosner 1960) as a measure of maternal investment. In a “low quality” treatment, larvae were reared with two conspecific tadpoles and food was limited, whereas in a “high quality” treatment, larvae were reared individually and were fed ad libitum. Among tadpoles reared in the low quality treatment, individuals that were initially small had smaller body sizes through metamorphosis and longer larval periods than individuals that were initially large. Among tadpoles reared in the high quality treatment, initial size had only a weak influence on later larval size, and did not significantly affect metamorphic size of the duration of the larval period. This interaction between maternal investment and rearing conditions suggests that production of initially small offspring could be advantageous if these offspring develop in relatively benign environments, but disadvantageous if environments are more severe. These findings are discussed in light of previous studies that have demonstrated such interactions in organisms with complex life cycles.