Reproductive mode plasticity: Aquatic and terrestrial oviposition in a treefrog

Department of Biology, Boston University, 5 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 06/2008; 105(21):7495-9. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0711579105
Source: PubMed


Diversification of reproductive mode is a major theme in animal evolution. Vertebrate reproduction began in water, and terrestrial eggs evolved multiple times in fishes and amphibians and in the amniote ancestor. Because oxygen uptake from water conflicts with water retention in air, egg adaptations to one environment typically preclude development in the other. Few animals have variable reproductive modes, and no vertebrates are known to lay eggs both in water and on land. We report phenotypic plasticity of reproduction with aquatic and terrestrial egg deposition by a frog. The treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus, known to lay eggs terrestrially, also lays eggs in water, both at the surface and fully submerged, and chooses its reproductive mode based on the shade above a pond. Under unshaded conditions, in a disturbed habitat and in experimental mesocosms, these frogs lay most of their egg masses aquatically. The same pairs also can lay eggs terrestrially, on vegetation over water, even during a single night. Eggs can survive in both aquatic and terrestrial environments, and variable mortality risks in each may make oviposition plasticity adaptive. Phylogenetically, D. ebraccatus branches from the basal node in a clade of terrestrially breeding species, nested within a larger lineage of aquatic-breeding frogs. Reproductive plasticity in D. ebraccatus may represent a retained ancestral state intermediate in the evolution of terrestrial reproduction.

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    • "Since males defend territories associated with tree holes, it is possible that tadpoles found in ponds were laid by females that mated with males that adopted an alternative mate-locating tactic. On the other hand, hylids females could also show plasticity in oviposition (Touchon & Warkentin, 2008), and temporary pounds could be the opportunity to nest in an alternative place when the preferred clutching site is limited. If one or both situations are true, tadpoles in ponds may lack the ability to change the behavior according to their swimming capacity because they are an example of a population that evolved in a habitat with low predation pressure. "
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    • "The kairomone elicits the plastic response, but it does not in itself influence selection on inducible defenses, which depends on predation risk. And the treefrog Dendropsophus ebraccatus uses the shade above a pond as an indicator of the level of humidity , to influence a plastic reproductive strategy whereby eggs are laid aquatically or terrestrially (Touchon and Warkentin 2008). "
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    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Evolution
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    • "Detailed field research of frog behaviour may even change current thoughts on the evolutionary biology of anurans. For instance, recent evidence has revealed a cryptic mechanism of mate choice (Bruning et al. 2010), an ultrasonic communication system (Feng et al. 2006; Arch et al. 2008), seismic communication in arboreal and aquatic species (Caldwell et al. 2010; Forti and Encarnação 2012), and plasticity in reproductive modes and embryo development (Touchon and Warkentin 2008; Warkentin 2011). Also, diurnal species have been recorded during elaborate courtships involving auditory, visual or tactile signals (e.g. "
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