Ecological and evolutionary trends of body size in Pristimantis frogs, the world's most diverse vertebrate genus

Sci Rep. 2022 Oct 27;12(1):18106. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22181-5.


Body size is a key organismal trait. However, the environmental and evolutionary factors that drive body size patterns at the interspecific level remain unclear. Here, we explored these relationships between phenotype-environment using neotropical frogs of Pristimantis, the world's most diverse vertebrate genus. We analyzed: (a) whether this group follows the Rensch's rule, a trend of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) to increase with size when males are the larger sex; (b) whether environmental constraints have influenced body size variation; and (c) how the rates of body size evolution have varied over time. Analyses were based on two information sources, the first one including body sizes of ~ 85% (495 species) of known species in the genus, and a second one incorporating molecular phylogenetic information for 257 species. Our results showed that all Pristimantis species exhibited marked SSD but did not follow Rensch's rule. We found that the models that best explained body size in males, females, and SSD contained environmental variations in temperature, precipitation, and elevation as predictors. In turn, body size has evolved toward an optimum, with a decelerating rate of evolution differentiated between the large Pristimantis clades.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura* / genetics
  • Body Size
  • Female
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Sex Characteristics*