SEAFWA 2018 has ended
The following schedule is from the 72nd Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies which was held October 21-24, 2018 in Mobile, Alabama. 
Wednesday, October 24 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Wildlife 4 Track: High Variability in Amphibian Metamorph Leg Length and Relationships to Pond Leaf Litter Input

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AUTHORS: Julia E. Earl, Louisiana Tech University

ABSTRACT: Amphibian morphology, including the presence of malformations, can be influenced by environmental factors. Amphibian metamorphs have been found with missing limbs and extra limbs, which can be caused by high parasite loads and synthetic chemicals. Very little work has been devoted to amphibians with more subtle differences in morphology like shorter leg lengths. Previous work shows that intraspecific competition can alter the length of metamorph legs relative to their body size, though the differences among treatments are often small. Here, I show that relative leg length (leg length/body length) can be quite variable, as seen in four different species: Hyla versicolor, Lithobates sylvaticus, Lithobates sphenocephalus, and Anaxyrus americanus under experimental conditions. I measured relative leg length for metamorphs from aquatic mesocosm studies examining the effects of resource type and quality in the form of plant litter input. In most cases, treatments with lower resources (either no plant litter or plant litter with very low nutrient content, such as white pine) resulted in metamorphs with shorter legs relative to body length than treatments with higher resources. This effect of resource level on leg length suggests individual fitness consequences for metamorphs that spent their larval period in lower resource environments, such as closed canopy ponds with low quality leaf litter input. Metamorphs with shorter leg length often have reduced jumping performance, suggesting that metamorphs emerging from ponds with low plant litter or leaves with low nutrients may have reduced dispersal capacity and ability to escape predators.

Wednesday October 24, 2018 11:00am - 11:20am
Bon Secour Bay II

Attendees (2)