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Influence of density and salinity on larval development of salt-adapted and salt-naïve frog populations

Cite this dataset

Albecker, Molly (2021). Influence of density and salinity on larval development of salt-adapted and salt-naïve frog populations [Dataset]. Dryad.


Environmental change and habitat fragmentation will affect population densities for many species. For those species that have locally adapted to persist in changed or stressful habitats, it is uncertain how density dependence will affect adaptive responses. Anurans (frogs and toads) are typically freshwater organisms, but some coastal populations of green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) have adapted to brackish, coastal wetlands. Tadpoles from coastal populations metamorphose sooner and demonstrate faster growth rates than inland populations when reared solitarily. Although saltwater exposure has adaptively reduced the duration of the larval period for coastal populations, increases in densities during larval development typically increase time to metamorphosis and reduce rates of growth and survival. We test how combined stressors of density and salinity affect larval development between salt-adapted (“coastal”) and non-salt adapted (“inland”) populations by measuring various developmental and metamorphic phenotypes. We found that increased tadpole density strongly affected coastal and inland tadpole populations similarly. In high-density treatments, both coastal and inland populations had reduced growth rates, greater exponential decay of growth, a smaller size at metamorphosis, took longer to reach metamorphosis, and had lower survivorship at metamorphosis. Salinity only exaggerated the effects of density on the time to reach metamorphosis and exponential decay of growth. Location of origin affected length at metamorphosis, with coastal tadpoles metamorphosing slightly longer than inland tadpoles across densities and salinities. These findings confirm that density has a strong and central influence on larval development even across divergent populations and habitat types and may mitigate the expression (and therefore detection) of locally adapted phenotypes.


National Science Foundation, Award: 1701690

National Science Foundation, Award: 1556743