In organisms with complex life cycles, physiological stressors during early life stages may have fitness-level impacts that are delayed into later stages or habitats. We tested the hypothesis that body size and date of metamorphosis, which are highly responsive to aquatic stressors, influence post-metamorphic survival and movement patterns in the terrestrial phase of an ephemeral pond-breeding frog by examining these traits in two populations of northern red-legged frogs (Rana aurora aurora). To increase variation of body size at metamorphosis, we manipulated food availability for 314 of 1045 uniquely marked tadpoles and estimated the probability that frogs survived and emigrated using concentric rings of drift fencing surrounding ponds and Bayesian capture-recapture modeling. The odds of surviving and emigrating from the ponds to the innermost drift fences, ???12 m, increased by factors of 2.20 (95% credibility intervals 1.39-4.23) and 2.54 (0.94-4.91) with each millimeter increase in snout-vent length and decreased by factors of 0.91 (0.85-0.96) and 0.89 (0.80-1.00) with each day's delay in metamorphosis for the two ponds. The odds of surviving and moving to the next ring of fencing, 12 m to ???40 m from the ponds, increased by a factor of 1.20 (0.45-4.06) with each millimeter increase in size. Our results demonstrated that body size and timing of metamorphosis relate strongly to the performance of newly metamorphosed frogs during their initial transition into terrestrial habitat. Carryover effects of aquatic stressors that reduce size and delay metamorphosis may have population-level impacts that are not expressed until terrestrial stages. Since changes in both aquatic and terrestrial systems are implicated in many amphibian declines, quantifying both immediate and delayed effects of stressors on demographic rates is critical to sound management. ?? 2006 by the Ecological Society of America.
Additional publication details
Carryover aquatic effects on survival of metamorphic frogs during pond emigration