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Comparative demography of a temperate anuran, Rana chensinensis, along a relatively fine elevational gradient

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Rana chensinensis (David, 1875) is a temperate anuran endemic to northern China. We examined differences in demographic traits of the populations from three elevations (1400, 1700, and 2000m) along a montane river in 2002. We found that frogs from higher elevations had delayed maturity, a larger size at maturity, and slower growth rates compared with frogs at lower elevations. This life-history model is similar to observations of other amphibians living in montane areas. However, discordance with the expected model occurred between neighboring populations and the variation was sex-specific. Mid-elevation adult males were significantly older and larger than their low-elevation congeners, but they were statistically similar in age and size to frogs from high elevations; females from mid elevations were not statistically different in age and size from females from our low-elevation site, but they were significantly younger and smaller than high-elevation females. These variations may be related to sexual differences in life-history strategies, which might not covary systematically when elevational gradients are set at a finer scale. At each elevation, the sex ratio was skewed towards females; females also matured later, lived longer, and were larger. Age was a major factor related to size, but other factors played a role in shaping size differences both between populations and between sexes.

Rana chensinensis (David, 1875) est un anoure de la zone tempérée qui est endémique dans le nord de la Chine. Nous avons examiné les différences des caractéristiques démographiques des populations à trois altitudes (1400, 1700 et 2000 m) le long du cours d’une rivière de montagne en 2002. Les grenouilles des altitudes plus élevées ont une maturité retardée, une taille plus grande à la maturité et des taux de croissance plus lents que les grenouilles des altitudes plus basses. Ce modèle de cycle biologique est semblable à ceux observés chez d’autres amphibiens vivant dans les régions montagneuses. Il y a cependant une discordance avec le modèle attendu dans le cas des populations avoisinantes et celui des variations spécifiques au sexe. Les mâles adultes des altitudes intermédiaires sont significativement plus vieux et plus grands que leurs congénères des altitudes plus basses, mais leur âge et leur taille sont statistiquement semblables à ceux des grenouilles des altitudes élevées; les femelles des altitudes intermédiaires ne diffèrent pas statistiquement en âge et en taille des femelles de notre site de basse altitude, mais elles sont significativement plus jeunes et plus petites que les femelles de haute altitude. Ces différences peuvent peut-être s’expliquer par des divergences sexuelles de stratégie démographique qui pourraient ne pas être en covariation de façon systémique, si les gradients d’altitude étaient étudiés à une échelle plus fine. À chaque altitude, le rapport mâles:femelles favorise les femelles; les femelles atteignent aussi la maturité plus tard, elles vivent plus longtemps et elles sont plus grandes. L’âge est le facteur explicatif le plus important de la taille, mais d’autres facteurs jouent un rôle dans l’établissement des différences de tailles entre les populations et entre les sexes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-12-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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