Insular shifts and trade-offs in life-history traits in pond frogs in the Zhoushan Archipelago, China

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Journal Article
Journal of Zoology, 2009, 278 (1), pp. 65 - 73
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Island and mainland populations of animal species often differ strikingly in life-history traits such as clutch size, egg size, total reproductive effort and body size. However, despite widespread recognition of insular shifts in these life-history traits in birds, mammals and reptiles, there have been no reports of such life-history shifts in amphibians. Furthermore, most studies have focused on one specific life-history trait without explicit consideration of coordinated evolution among these intimately linked life-history traits, and thus the relationships among these traits are poorly studied. Here we provide the first evidence of insular shifts and trade-offs in a coordinated suite of life-history traits for an amphibian species, the pond frog Rana nigromaculata. Life-history data were collected from eight islands in the Zhoushan Archipelago and neighboring mainland China. We found consistent, significant shifts in all life-history traits between mainland and island populations. Island populations had smaller clutch sizes, larger egg sizes, larger female body size and invested less in total reproductive effort than mainland populations. Significant negative relationships were found between egg size and clutch size and between egg size and total reproductive effort among frog populations after controlling for the effects of body size. Therefore, decreased reproductive effort and clutch size, larger egg size and body size in pond frogs on islands were selected through trade-offs as an overall life-history strategy. Our findings contribute to the formation of a broad, repeatable ecological generality for insular shifts in life-history traits across a range of terrestrial vertebrate taxa. © 2009 The Zoological Society of London.
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