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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2001 → Alternative life history strategies in the West African reed frog, Hyperolius nitidulus

Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg (2001)

Alternative life history strategies in the West African reed frog, Hyperolius nitidulus

Lampert, Kathrin P.

Titre : Alternative life history strategies in the West African reed frog, Hyperolius nitidulus

Auteur : Lampert, Kathrin P.

Université de soutenance : Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg

Grade : Doktor der naturwissenschaftlichen 2001

Distinct juvenile behaviour differences, changes in adult sizes and reproductive capacity and a long reproductive period triggered the working hypothesis of two alternative life-cycle strategies favouring aestivation or immediate reproduction. The hypothesis for the life-cycles of Hyperolius nitidulus that differed from the commonly assumed reproductive strategy for this species was confirmed by the results of this study. Aestivated juveniles start to mature at the beginning of the rainy season and reproduce subsequently. Their tadpoles grow until metamorphosis and either reproduce in this same season, in which case their offspring aestivates (one year - two generations), or they delay reproduction to the following year and aestivate themselves (one year - one generation). Juveniles trying to reproduce as fast as possible will invest in growth and differentiation and show no costly adaptations to aestivation, while juveniles delaying reproduction to the following rainy season will be well adapted to dry season conditions. Indirect evidence for the existence of a second generation was found in all three investigation years : adult size decreased abruptly towards the end of the rainy season, mainly due to the arrival of very small individuals, and clutch size decreased abruptly. Also at the end of the rainy season juveniles had two behavioural types : one hiding on the ground and clearly avoiding direct sunlight and another sitting freely above ground showing higher tolerance towards dry season conditions (high air temperatures and low humidity). Skin morphology differed between the types showing many more purine crystals in a higher order in the dry-season adapted juveniles. The final proof for the existence of a second generation came with the recapture of individuals marked as juveniles when they left the pond. The 45 recaptured frogs definitely came back to the pond to reproduce during the same season in 1999. Second generation frogs (males and females) were significantly smaller than the rest of all adults and egg diameter was reduced. Clutch size did not differ significantly. It was found that females did not discriminate against second generation males when coming to the ponds to reproduce. Second generation males had a similar chance to be found in amplexus as first generation males. Indirect and direct evidence for a second generation matched very well. The sudden size decrease in adults occurred just at the time when the first marked frogs returned. The observation that freshly metamorphosed froglets were able to sit in the sun directly after leaving the water led to the assumption that the decision whether to aestivate or to reproduce already happens during the frogs’ larval period. Water chemistry and the influence of light was investigated to look for the factors triggering the decision, but only contaminated water increased the number of juveniles ready for aestivation. Whether the life history polymorphism observed in Hyperolius nitidulus is due to phenotypic plasticity or genetic polymorphism is still not known. Despite this uncertainty, there is no doubt that the optimal combination of different life histories is profitable and may be a reason for the wide range and high local abundance of Hyperolius nitidulus

Mots clés : life history strategies, reed frog , Hyperolius , reproduction , mate choice , tadpole development , West African savanna, Parc National de la Comoe ?


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