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A Treefrog with Reproductive Mode Plasticity Reveals a Changing Balance of Selection for Nonaquatic Egg Laying

Justin C. Touchon
The American Naturalist
Vol. 180, No. 6 (December 2012), pp. 733-743
DOI: 10.1086/668079
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668079
Page Count: 11
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A Treefrog with Reproductive Mode Plasticity Reveals a Changing Balance of Selection for Nonaquatic Egg Laying
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Abstract

AbstractNonaquatic reproduction has evolved repeatedly, but the factors that select for laying eggs on land are not well understood. The treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus has plasticity in its reproductive mode, laying eggs that successfully develop in or out of water. This permits the first experimental comparison of the selective agents that shape adult oviposition behavior and embryo developmental capacity. I quantified the sources and strengths of arboreal and aquatic egg mortality and how mortality varies with weather patterns, and I assessed 39 years of daily rainfall patterns to infer historic levels of egg mortality and effects of climate change on the selective balance between aquatic and nonaquatic egg deposition. Aquatic predators and desiccation were the strongest selective agents in water and air, respectively. Egg mortality varied with weather such that aquatic oviposition was advantageous when rainfall was low but laying eggs out of water increased survival when rainfall was high. Additionally, I found that since 1972 there have been significant changes in the rainfall patterns in central Panama, and this has altered the selective landscape acting on egg-laying behavior. This work provides insight into the evolution and maintenance of adaptive phenotypic plasticity as well as historic and current selection on reproduction.

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