Maternal investment increases with altitude in a frog on the Tibetan Plateau

Chen, W., Tang, Z.H., Fan, X.G., Wang, Y., and Pike, D.A. (2013) Maternal investment increases with altitude in a frog on the Tibetan Plateau. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26 (12). pp. 2710-2715.

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Abstract

Reproducing females can allocate energy between the production of eggs or offspring of different size or number, both of which can strongly influence fitness. The physical capacity to store developing offspring imposes constraints on maximum clutch volume, but individual females and populations can trade off whether more or fewer eggs or offspring are produced, and their relative sizes. Harsh environments are likely to select for larger egg or offspring size, and many vertebrate populations compensate for this reproductive investment through an increase in female body size. We report a different trade-off in a frog endemic to the Tibetan Plateau, Rana kukunoris. Females living at higher altitudes (n = 11 populations, 2000–3500 m) produce larger eggs, but without a concomitant increase in female body size or clutch size. The reduced diel and seasonal activity at high altitudes may impose constraints on the maximum body size of adult frogs, by limiting the opportunity for energy accumulation. Simultaneously, producing larger eggs likely helps to increase the rate of embryonic development, causing tadpoles to hatch earlier. The gelatinous matrix surrounding eggs, more of which is produced by large females, may help buffer developing embryos from temperature fluctuations or offer protection from ultraviolet radiation. High-altitude frogs on the Tibetan Plateau employ a reproductive strategy that favours large egg size independent of body size, which is unusual in amphibians. The harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions at high altitudes can thus impose strong and opposing selection pressures on adult and embryonic life stages, both of which can simultaneously influence fitness.

Item ID: 30633
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: altitude, clutch size, clutch volume, egg size, Rana kukunoris, trade-off
ISSN: 1420-9101
Funders: Scientific Research Foundation of Mianyang Normal University, Youth Foundation of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, National Sciences Foundation of China
Projects and Grants: Scientific Research Foundation of Mianyang Normal University Grant Number 2011A17, Scientific Research Foundation of Mianyang Normal University Grant Number QD2012A13, Youth Foundation of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Education Grant Number 11ZB138, National Sciences Foundation of China Grant Number 31170319
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2013 05:27
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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