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Shifts in the developmental rate of spadefoot toad larvae cause decreased complexity of post-metamorphic pigmentation patterns

AuthorsLee Hyeun-Ji; Rendón, Miguel A. CSIC ORCID CVN; Liedtke, H. Christoph; Gómez-Mestre, Iván CSIC ORCID
Spadefoot toad
Pelobates cultripes
Phenotypic plasticity
Pigmentation pattern
Dorsal pigmentation
Environmental stress
Carry-over effects
Complex life cycles
Issue Date2020
CitationLee Hyeun-Ji, Miguel Ángel Rendon, Hans Christoph Liedtke and Ivan Gomez-Mestre. Shifts in the developmental rate of Pelobates cultripes larvae cause decreased complexity of pigmentation patterns post metamorphosis. [Dataset], 2020
AbstractAmphibian larvae are plastic organisms that can adjust their growth and developmental rates to local environmental conditions. The consequences of such developmental alterations have been studied in detail, both at the phenotypic and physiological levels. While largely unknown, it is of great importance to assess how developmental alterations affect the pigmentation pattern of the resulting metamorphs, because pigmentation is relevant for communication, mate choice, and camouflage and hence influences the overall fitness of the toads. Here we quantify the variation in several aspects of the pigmentation pattern of juvenile spadefoot toads experimentally induced to accelerate their larval development in response to decreased water level. It is known that induced developmental acceleration comes at the cost of reduced size at metamorphosis, higher metabolic rate, and increased oxidative stress. In this study, we show that spadefoot toads undergoing developmental acceleration metamorphosed with a less complex, more homogeneous, darker dorsal pattern consisting of continuous blotches, compared to the more contrasted pattern with segregated blotches and higher fractal dimension in normally developing individuals, and at a smaller size. We also observed a marked effect of population of origin in the complexity of the pigmentation pattern. Complexity of the post-metamorphic dorsal pigmentation could therefore be linked to pre-metamorphic larval growth and development.
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