SREL Reprint #0950




Reproductive Strategy of a Facultatively Paedomorphic Salamander Ambystoma talpoideum

Raymond D. Semlitsch



The reproductive strategy of the salamander Ambystoma talpoideum was studied on an age-specific basis in five breeding populations using ponds subjected to different annual probabilities of drying.  Ambystoma talpoideum is facultatively paedomorphic in semi-permanent ponds but sexually mature individuals occur only as terrestrial morphs in temporary ponds.  Larvae of paedomorphs and terrestrial morphs mature at the same age but different body sizes.  Body mass and snout-vent length increased with age in both morphs.  One-year old terrestrial morphs had larger snout-vent lengths than 1-year-old paedomorphs but were smaller in body mass.  Clutch mass, number of ova, and diameter of ova increased with snout-vent length.  After removing the effects of snout-vent length with an analysis of covariance, only the diameter of ova and the resultant clutch mass increased with age.  One-year-old terrestrial morphs produced more ova than 1-year-old paedomorphs but paedomorphs have the potential to reproduce earlier than terrestrial morphs.  Parental investment, as shown by the relationship between clutch size and egg size, increased with age.  This suggested that as potential energy increased with age, A. talpoideum produced more eggs and larger eggs.  Rather than optimizing egg size, individuals may produce a range of egg sizes that theoretically fare better in spatially and temporally varying environments.


SREL Reprint #0950

Semlitsch, R.D. 1985. Reproductive strategy of a facultatively paedomorphic salamander Ambystoma talpoideum. Oecologia (Berl.) 65:305-313.

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