AbstractThe timing and size of metamorphosis are crucial for the future fitness of organisms with complex life cycles, such as amphibians. In some amphibian species, a portion of tadpoles will metamorphose in their natal year whereas others from the same cohort overwinter as tadpoles. Low temperature and food availability were previously assumed to be the underlying reasons; however, the factors influencing the decision to overwinter as tadpoles or metamorphose in the natal year have not been extensively studied. This study investigated these factors by conducting laboratory‐rearing experiments on Babina subaspera tadpoles. The tadpoles were individually reared under controlled temperature and light conditions that simulated five different growing seasons (i.e., the start month) observed in the field. Four different food quantity levels were set to induce different growth rates, which were measured individually. The results revealed that 33 tadpoles metamorphosed within their natal year, whereas 52 tadpoles were overwintered as tadpoles and metamorphosed the following spring. The size at metamorphosis was larger in tadpoles that metamorphosed after winter than in those that metamorphosed before winter. Whether tadpoles metamorphosed before or after winter was influenced by the individual growth rate and growing season. Tadpoles with slower growth rates were more likely to metamorphose after winter, possibly because slower growth prevented them from reaching the critical size threshold required for metamorphosis before winter. The threshold for the occurrence of larval overwintering varied with the growing season; tadpoles that spawned later in the year were more likely to overwinter, even with a high growth rate. The results suggested that slow‐growing B. subaspera tadpoles with insufficient time until the onset of winter would gain a higher fitness by metamorphosing after winter. This would be advantageous due to the tadpoles' potentially high survival rate during dormancy as well as their larger size at metamorphosis in the following year.

Full Text
Published version (Free)

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call