Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 185–204 | Cite as

Intraspecific variation in clutch size and maternal investment in pueriparous and larviparous Salamandra salamandra females

  • Guillermo Velo-Antón
  • Xavier Santos
  • Iago Sanmartín-Villar
  • Adolfo Cordero-Rivera
  • David Buckley
Original Paper


Amphibian reproductive modes are diverse and are characterised by complex adaptations, including vast variability in life history traits and different parental investment strategies. For instance, viviparity is rare in urodeles despite the potential ecological advantages gained in such populations by having semi-independency from water. The fire salamander, Salamandra salamandra, shows remarkable intraspecific variation in reproductive modes, with two strategies co-occurring: a common reproductive mode, larviparity (parturition of aquatic larvae), and a phylogenetically derived reproductive mode, pueriparity (parturition of terrestrial juveniles). Pueriparous populations of S. salamandra have at least two independent origins, the first originating from its northern distribution in the Iberian Peninsula, and the second at two insular populations on the northwestern Iberian coast. Here, we analyse the patterns of variability of some life-history traits in larviparous and pueriparous populations of S. salamandra, including pueriparous populations from the two independent origins, to understand how these traits relate to the evolutionary transitions in reproductive modes in S. salamandra. Our study shows differences in female body size and clutch and brood size between larviparous and pueriparous fire salamanders. We did not find differences in female investment between reproductive modes, and thus, the evolution to pueriparity in S. salamandra is likely characterised by the re-allocation of eggs to matrotrophy. Our study also confirms pueriparity and larviparity as the characteristic reproductive modes for insular and coastal/mainland S. s. gallaica populations, respectively, revealing the potential presence of pueriparity in one coastal population. This comparative analysis sheds light on the maternal factors that might have driven, or are related to, the evolution of pueriparity in this unique biological system and sets up the basis for testing different hypotheses that include climatic, ecological, physiological, and genetic factors as drivers of this evolutionary transition.


Islands Fire salamander Ovoviviparity Reproduction Viviparity 



We are deeply thankful to M. Casal Nantes for her generous help during field-work campaigns. We thank the employees of the National Park for facilitating our trips to the island. Fieldwork for obtaining tissue samples was done with the corresponding permits from regional administration (Galicia, Ref. 1653/2009, 014/2011, 546/2012). We also thank M. Modrell, the associated editor Martin Reichard and two anonymous reviewers for all their comments and suggestions, which have certainly improved the manuscript. G.V.-A. and X.S. are supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/74834/2010 and SFRH/BPD/73176/2010, respectively). D.B. was partially supported by a JAE-DOC fellowship from the CSIC under the program “Junta para la Ampliación de Estudios” co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). This study was partially supported by Grants from the Organismo Autónomo Parques Nacionales (Grant 072B/2002) and by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT: PTDC/BIA-EVF/3036/2012) through EU Programme COMPETE, and by project “Biodiversity, Ecology and Global Change” co-financed by North Portugal Regional Operational Programme 2007/2013 (ON.2—O Novo Norte), under the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This research also received support from the SYNTHESYS Project which is financed by European Community Research Infrastructure Action under the FP7 “Capacities” Programme at the Museo Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC) (Ref: ES-TAF-1987).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillermo Velo-Antón
    • 1
  • Xavier Santos
    • 1
  • Iago Sanmartín-Villar
    • 2
  • Adolfo Cordero-Rivera
    • 2
  • David Buckley
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.CIBIO/InBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Instituto de Ciências Agrárias de VairãoUniversidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  2. 2.Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva e da Conservación, Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía AnimalUniversidade de VigoPontevedraSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Biodiversidad y Biología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSICMadridSpain
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, Development and NeuroscienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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