Evolution and plasticity of anuran larval development in response to desiccation. A comparative analysis

Alex Richter-Boix, Miguel Tejedo, Enrico L. Rezende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Anurans breed in a variety of aquatic habitats with contrasting levels of desiccation risk, which may result in selection for faster development during larval stages. Previous studies suggest that species in ephemeral ponds reduce their developmental times to minimize desiccation risks, although it is not clear how variation in desiccation risk affects developmental strategies in different species. Employing a comparative phylogenetic approach including data from published and unpublished studies encompassing 62 observations across 30 species, we tested if species breeding in ephemeral ponds (High risk) develop faster than those frompermanent ponds (Low risk) and/or show increased developmental plasticity in response to drying conditions. Our analyses support shorter developmental times in High risk, primarily by decreasing body mass at metamorphosis. Plasticity in developmental times was small and did not differ between groups. However, accelerated development in High risk species generally resulted in reduced sizes atmetamorphosis, while some Low risk species were able compensate this effect by increasing mean growth rates. Taken together, our results suggest that plastic responses in species breeding in ephemeral ponds are constrained by a general trade-offbetween development and growth rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Anuran tadpoles
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Evolutionary trade-off
  • Life-history theory
  • Phylogenetic analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution and plasticity of anuran larval development in response to desiccation. A comparative analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this