, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 110–113 | Cite as

Is body size of the water frog Rana esculenta complex responding to climate change?

  • Piotr TryjanowskiEmail author
  • Tim Sparks
  • Mariusz Rybacki
  • Leszek Berger
Original Article


Recent studies on climate responses in ectothermic (cold-blooded) vertebrates have been few in number and focussed on phenology rather than morphology. According to Bergmann’s rule, endothermic (warm-blooded) vertebrates from cooler climates tend to be larger than congeners from warmer regions. Although amphibians are ectothermic vertebrates, weather and climatic conditions may also impact on their morphology, and thereby affect their survival rates and population dynamics. In this paper, we show, in a unique long-term study during the period 1963–2003 in an agricultural landscape in western Poland, that the body length of two water frog parental species (males of both Rana ridibunda and R. lessonae) increased significantly. However, their hybridogenetic hybrid R. esculenta did not show similar changes. A significant relationship with a large-scale climatic factor, the winter North Atlantic Oscillation index, was found positive for R. ridibunda males and R. lessonae females, and negative for R. esculenta females. Our findings, the first for amphibians, are consistent with other studies reporting that recent climate change has affected the morphology of animals. However, we also show that changes in amphibian phenotype linked to climate may vary independently between (even very similar) species.


Parental Species North Atlantic Oscillation Index Ectothermic Vertebrate Water Frog Rana Ridibunda 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



During the study, work was supported by different grants from CPBP and KBN. We are grateful to Y. Yom-Tov and M. Hromada for discussions on ideas in the manuscript and to two anonymous reviewers for improving an earlier version. PT’s sabbatical at Monks Wood was supported by the Foundation for Polish Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Piotr Tryjanowski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tim Sparks
    • 2
  • Mariusz Rybacki
    • 3
  • Leszek Berger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Behavioural EcologyAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland
  2. 2.NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots RiptonHuntingdonUK
  3. 3.Research Centre for Agricultural and Forest Environment, PASPoznańPoland

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