Does the development rate of common frog tadpoles accelerate if their habitat dries? To study this, the water level in experimental tanks was reduced shortly before time of metamorphosis. Water level remained high in control tanks. The experiment was performed at two different tadpole densities and replicated four times, with tadpoles from different source ponds. The experimental treatment, simulating a drying pond, resulted in earlier metamorphosis while no significant difference in size at metamorphosis was found. Resources per capita decreased as a result of the decreased water level so the increase in development rate was not an effect of feeding conditions. Temperatures in the tanks were such that it is unlikely that the increased development rate was due to temperature effects. I interpret the advancement of metamorphosis as an adaptive response to the threat of drying. This response has been documented for several other anuran species. All those breed in temporary water bodies, supporting the hypothesis that the trait is an evolved adaptation for breeding in such waters.
A population of rainbow lizards (Agama agama) was studied in central Kenya. Rainbow lizards are able to rapidly change their colours. Dominant territorial males usually exhibited intensive bright colours. Dominant males were less intensively coloured when close to their territory border than in its center. Dominant males tolerated subordinate adult males in their territories. The colours of subordinate adult males were less intensive when these males were close to dominant males than when far from them. We interpret our findings in light of theories of sexual selection.
Anuran sex ratio at breeding sites is typically male biased. Such sex ratios may be due to poor female survival, to females not breeding as frequently as males and/or to males becoming sexually mature earlier than females. In the present study, the first two factors are analyzed in a common toad (Bufo bufo) population in southern Sweden. Toads were captured, marked and recaptured at the breeding site during 5 years. Within season capture patterns were analyzed using the Jolly-Seber model and among-year captures using the Closed robust design model. Population estimates of males and females yielded an among year variation in breeding population sex ratio, ranging from 16% to 34% females. On average, 41% (proportion adult alive but not breeding) of the females skipped breeding seasons, whereas the corresponding estimate for males was less than 5%. Yearly survival averaged 42% for adult female and 63% for adult male toads. First year adult males and females had a lower survival rate than older toads. Our results demonstrate that both a female biased mortality rate and a higher proportion of skipped breeding in females contribute to the observed male biased sex ratio. However, a deterministic model suggests other factors may also be involved to obtain this degree of male biased sex ratio, the most likely being that females mature at a later age than male toads.