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Weight loss, reproductive output, and the cost of reproduction in the common frog, Rana temporaria


The consequences of reproduction for body weight, growth and survival were studied in a Swiss population of the explosive breeder, Rana temporaria. Males and females continuously loss weight in the range of 0.5% of total body weight per day from the breeding migration throughout May. Females also lost about 33% (1983) and 29% (1984) due to spawning. In addition to this significant year-to-year variation, there was also considerable individual variation in reproductive output. Skeletochronological techniques indicated that breeding male or female frogs experienced a growth reduction of several millimeters relative to non-breeding frogs of the same body size. There was no relationship between an individual female's reproductive output in consecutive years or with her subsequent growth or survival. It was concluded that weight loss is caused by a seasonally elevated metabolism in combination with a lack of feeding and represents a basic energetic cost of reproduction, resulting in lowered growth. Individual variation in relative reproductive output is mostly environmentally induced and is not an expression of different reproductive strategies. This may explain the lack of trade-offs that are predicted by the cost-of-reproduction-hypothesis.

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Ryser, J. Weight loss, reproductive output, and the cost of reproduction in the common frog, Rana temporaria . Oecologia 78, 264–268 (1989).

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Key words

  • Body weight
  • Reproductive strategies
  • Cost of reproduction
  • Rana temporaria