Evolutionary Ecology

, 23:979 | Cite as

Microgeographic variation in temperature-induced plasticity in an isolated amphibian metapopulation

Original Paper


Variation in local environments may lead to variation in the selection pressures and differentiation among local populations even at microgeographic scale. We investigated variation in temperature-induced plasticity in larval life-history traits among populations of an isolated pool frog (Rana lessonae) metapopulation in Central Sweden. Successful breeding of this northern fringe metapopulation is highly dependent on early summer temperature, however, the metapopulation shows very little variation in molecular genetic markers suggesting limited potential for local differentiation. We exposed larvae from three closely-located populations to two temperatures (20 and 25°C) in laboratory to investigate their growth and development responses to temperature variation. In general, larvae exposed to warmer temperature experienced higher survival and metamorphosed faster, but at a smaller size than those at low temperature. We found differences among the populations in both trait mean values and in the plastic responses. Among-family variation within populations was found in growth rate and time to metamorphosis, as well as in plasticity suggesting that these traits have a capacity to evolve. Our results indicate ample phenotypic variation within and among these closely-located populations despite the low molecular genetic variation. The differences in pond temperature characteristics detected in the study in the three localities may suggest that differential selection is acting in the populations. The strong differentiation found in the larval traits implies that understanding the factors that influence the potential of the populations to adapt to environmental changes may be essential for successful conservation strategies.


Environmental heterogeneity Life history Edge populations Metamorphosis Phenotypic plasticity 



Emma Dahl and Anaelisa Valdés gave us invaluable help during the field and laboratory work. We thank Miguel Tejedo and Céline Teplitsky for constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Our research was supported by a post-doctoral fellowship of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and fellowships from Fundación Caja Madrid and Fundación Ramón Areces (to G.O.), and by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (to A.L.). The experiments were conducted in agreement with the national laws and the eggs were collected with permission from the county authorities (Länsstyrelsen i Uppsala Län).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population and Conservation Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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