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Life-history traits in green toad (Bufo viridis) populations: indicators of habitat quality

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Abstract:

Five life-history traits (age and size at maturity, longevity, potential reproductive life span, age-dependent growth rate) were investigated in four Bufo viridis Laurenti, 1768 (=Pseudepidalea viridis (Laurenti, 1768)) populations that inhabited localities at similar altitude (60–100m above sea level) and latitude (50°N–51°N, Germany), but that differed in habitat quality (i.e., human land use within a radius of 1km around the breeding site). The age of 374 males and of 127 females collected during the breeding period was estimated using skeletochronology on phalange bones. We tested the hypothesis that sex and habitat quality account for detectable amounts of local variation in life-history traits. Significant sexual size dimorphism was present in all populations. Gender-specific variation in size was mainly accounted for by age, but also to a minor extent by habitat quality. In males, age at maturity varied between 1 and 3years and was the only life-history trait that was significantly related to the intensity of human land use. In contrast, land-use indices covaried significantly with female longevity (6–15years) and potential reproductive life span (5–12years). Our pilot study suggests that, in B. viridis, life-history traits derived from the local age structure may be useful as indicators of habitat quality.

Nous avons étudié cinq caractéristiques démographiques (âge et taille à la maturité, longévité, durée potentielle de la vie reproductive, taux de croissance en fonction de l’âge) chez quatre populations de Bufo viridis Laurenti, 1768 (=Pseudepidalea viridis (Laurenti, 1768)) qui habitent des sites d’altitude (60–100 m au-dessus du niveau de la mer) et de latitude (50°N–51ºN, Allemagne) semblables, mais de qualité d’habitat différente (c.-à-d. l’utilisation humaine des terres dans un rayon de 1 km autour du site de reproduction). Nous avons estimé par squelettochronologie des phalanges l’âge de 374 mâles et de 127 femelles récoltés durant la période de reproduction. Nous vérifions l’hypothèse selon laquelle le sexe et la qualité de l’habitat expliquent une partie discernable de la variation locale des caractéristiques démographiques. Il y a un dimorphisme sexuel significatif dans toutes les populations. La variation de la taille en fonction du sexe s’explique principalement par l’âge, mais aussi en moindre proportion par la qualité de l’habitat. Chez les mâles, l’âge à la maturité varie entre 1 et 3 ans et c’est le seul caractère démographique qui soit significativement relié à l’importance de l’utilisation anthropique des terres. En revanche, les indices d’utilisation des terres sont en corrélation significative avec la longévité des femelles (6–15 ans) et la durée potentielle de leur vie reproductive (5–12 ans). Notre étude-pilote indique que, chez les B. viridis, les caractéristiques démographiques reliées à la structure en âges locale peuvent servir d’indicateurs commodes de la qualité de l’habitat.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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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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