Temperate anurans have energy substrates in the liver, fat bodies, carcass and gonads; these stores provide support for metabolism and egg production during hibernation, and for breeding activities in spring. This paper compares the energy budget shortly before hibernation among Rana chensinensis populations at elevations of 1400, 1700 and 2000 m along a river in northern China. The larger frogs, regardless of elevation, had relatively heavy storage organs and the masses of nearly all these organs were positively correlated with each other. After controlling for the effect of body size, we found no significant difference in energetic organ mass among different age classes for each of the three populations. There were sexual differences in energy strategy. Males in all populations accumulated greater reserves in liver, fat bodies and carcass than did females. In contrast, females put more energy into their ovaries and oviducts. Frogs from higher elevations tended to have heavier organs than those from lower elevations; however, the pattern did not vary systematically along fine environmental gradients. Mid-elevation R. chensinensis built up significantly more reserves than low-elevation individuals, but were similar to their highland conspecifics. Males from higher elevations tended to have heavier liver and fat bodies; females were similar in liver and ovary mass across all elevations, but formed heavier fat bodies, oviducts and somatic tissue at higher elevation sites.
Additional publication details
Pre-hibernation energy reserves in a temperate anuran, Rana chensinensis, along a relatively fine elevational gradient