|Title||Habitat of origin and changes in water chemistry influence development of western chorus frogs|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2005|
|Authors||Gerlanc, NM, Kaufman, GA|
|Journal||Journal of Herpetology|
A variety of biotic and abiotic variables have been shown to affect length of larval period and size of juveniles at metamorphosis in amphibians. However, influence of water quality on phenotypic plasticity of growth and development of tadpoles generally has received less attention. We examined how abiotic factors in the larval environment change over time and how these changes affect the growth and development of larval amphibians. Western Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris triseriata, in tallgrass prairie breed in ephemeral aquatic habitats including intermittent streams and bison wallows. Our objectives were to determine whether abiotic factors in the larval environment of P. triseriata changed predictably as pools dried and to determine whether these changes affected growth and development of tadpoles when the environment was simulated in the laboratory. In our field studies, pH increased gradually in wallows, whereas ammonium increased in streams, as each habitat dried. In the laboratory, we examined the effects of increased levels of pH and ammonium on growth and development of tadpoles collected from both wallows and streams. Tadpoles collected from streams metamorphosed significantly faster in the high ammonium treatment than tadpoles from wallows. In contrast, tadpoles from wallows metamorphosed faster in the high pH treatment than tadpoles collected from streams. Growth rates of tadpoles from streams were not significantly affected by high pH, whereas those from wallows were not significantly affected by high ammonium treatments. We suggest that changes in abiotic factors over the course of the larval period may influence developmental rate and that natal habitat may determine how tadpoles respond to changes in abiotic factors.