Oecologia

, Volume 171, Issue 4, pp 873–881 | Cite as

Larval life history and anti-predator strategies are affected by breeding phenology in an amphibian

  • Germán Orizaola
  • Emma Dahl
  • Alfredo G. Nicieza
  • Anssi Laurila
Population ecology - Original research

Abstract

Seasonal time constraints can pose strong selection on life histories. Time-constrained animals should prioritise fast development over predation risk to avoid unfavourable growing conditions. However, changes in phenology could alter the balance between anti-predator and developmental needs. We studied variation of anti-predator strategies in common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles in four populations from the two extremes of a latitudinal gradient across Sweden. We examined, under common conditions in the laboratory, the anti-predator responses and life histories of tadpoles raised with predatory Aeshna dragonfly larvae in two consecutive years with a difference of 20 days in breeding time in the north, but no difference in breeding time in the nouth. In a year with late breeding, northern tadpoles did not modify their behaviour and morphology in the presence of predators, and metamorphosed faster and smaller than tadpoles born in a year with early breeding. In the year with early breeding, northern tadpoles showed a completely different anti-predator strategy by reducing activity and developing morphological defences in the presence of predators. We discuss the possible mechanisms that could activate these responses (likely a form of environmentally-mediated parental effect). To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that a vertebrate modifies the anti-predator strategy of its offspring in response to natural variation in reproductive phenology, which highlights the need to consider phenology in studies of life-history evolution.

Keywords

anti-predator defences Breeding time Climate Metamorphosis Phenotypic plasticity 

Supplementary material

442_2012_2456_MOESM1_ESM.doc (425 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 425 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Germán Orizaola
    • 1
  • Emma Dahl
    • 1
  • Alfredo G. Nicieza
    • 2
    • 3
  • Anssi Laurila
    • 1
  1. 1.Population and Conservation Biology/Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Ecology Unit, Department of Biology of Organisms and SystemsUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  3. 3.Research Unit of Biodiversity (CSIC, UO, PA)OviedoSpain

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