Differential growth identified in salamander larvae half-sib cohorts: survival strategy?

Dev Growth Differ. 2006 Oct;48(8):537-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2006.00887.x.


In this study we describe the growth of several different larval cohorts (i.e. half-siblings of the same mother born on the same day) of a rare, xeric-adapted salamander Salamandra s. infraimmaculata Martens, 1885, under constant density and food conditions from birth to metamorphosis. The larvae spend the critical first phase of their lives in water, mostly in temporary ponds. Age and weight at metamorphosis were highly affected by varying food conditions. We have identified six different growth modes that these larvae use, both fast growing and slow growing. Each larval cohort was found to use 2-4 different such growth modes regardless of their initial weight. Fast growing modes (I-III) will enable larvae to survive dry years, and metamorphose bigger. Slow growing modes (IV-VI), used by 8% of the larval population, will enable survival only in rainy years. These last growth modes effect differential temporal dispersal in wet years by delaying the emergence of postmetamorphs onto land. Distribution of growth modes in the larval population is affected by food but not by density conditions. Late-born, fast-growing larvae will have an advantage in dry years being able to metamorphose and disperse, whereas the slow-growing larvae will survive only in wet years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Metamorphosis, Biological / physiology*
  • Urodela / embryology*