Geographic variation in adult and embryonic desiccation tolerance in a terrestrial‐breeding frog

Date: 07, Apr, 2020
Author(s):   Tabitha Silja Rudin‐Bitterli, Jonathan Paul Evans, Nicola Jane Mitchell
Publisher: Wiley

Intraspecific variation in the ability of individuals to tolerate environmental perturbations is often neglected when considering the impacts of climate change. Yet this information is potentially crucial for mitigating deleterious effects of climate change on threatened species. Here we assessed patterns of intraspecific variation in desiccation tolerance in the frog Pseudophryne guentheri, a terrestrial‐breeding species experiencing a drying climate. Adult frogs were collected from six populations across a rainfall gradient and their dehydration and rehydration rates were assessed. We also compared desiccation tolerance of embryos and hatchlings originating from within‐population parental crosses from four of the populations. Embryos were reared on soil at three soil–water potentials and their desiccation tolerance was assessed across a range of traits. We found significant and strong patterns of intraspecific variation in almost all traits, both in adults and first‐generation offspring. Adult frogs exhibited clinal variation in their water balance responses, with populations from drier sites both dehydrating and rehydrating more slowly compared to frogs from more mesic sites. Similarly, desiccation tolerance of first‐generation offspring was significantly greater in populations from xeric sites. Our findings suggest that populations within this species will respond differently to the regional reduction in rainfall predicted by climate change models.

Geographic variation in adult and embryonic desiccation tolerance in a terrestrial‐breeding frog