Post-metamorphic change in activity metabolism of anurans in relation to life history
Pough, F. Harvey
MetadataShow full item record
Newly-metamorphosed individuals of some species of frogs and toads differ from adults in behavior, ecology, and physiology. These differences may be related to broader patterns of the life histories of different species of frogs. In particular, the length of larval life and the size of a frog at metamorphosis appear to be significant factors in post-metamorphic ontogenetic change. These changes in performance are associated with rapid post-metamorphic increases in oxygen transport capacity. Bufo americanus (American toads) and Rana sylvatica (wood frogs) spend only 2–3 months as tadpoles and metamorphose at body masses of 0.25 g or less. Individuals of these species improve endurance and aerobic capacity rapidly during the predispersal period immediately following metamorphosis. Increases in hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration, and heart mass relative to body mass are associated with this improvement in organismal performance. Rana clamitans (green frogs) spend from 3 to 10 months as larvae and weigh 3 g at metamorphosis. Green frogs did not show immediate post-metamorphic increases in performance. Rana palustris (pickerel frogs) are intermediate to wood frogs and green frogs in length of larval life and in size at metamorphosis, and they are intermediate also in their post-metamorphic physiological changes. American toads and wood frogs appear to delay dispersal from their natal ponds while they undergo rapid post-metamorphic growth and development, whereas green frogs disperse as soon as they leave the water, even before they have fully absorbed their tails. The very small body sizes of newly metamorphosed toads and wood frogs appear to limit the scope of their behaviors. The brief larval periods of these species permit them to exploit transient aquatic habitats, but impose costs in the form of a period of post-metamorphic life in which their activities are restricted in time and space compared to those of adults.