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Oecologia. 2005 Feb;142(4):546-53. Epub 2004 Nov 20.

Maternal investment in egg size: environment- and population-specific effects on offspring performance.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, 75236, Uppsala, Sweden.


Geographic variation in maternal investment in offspring size can be adaptive if differences in investment translate into improved offspring performance in the given environments. We compared two moor frog, Rana arvalis, populations in the laboratory to test the hypothesis that investment in large eggs in populations originating from stressful (acid) environments improves offspring performance when reared in stressful (acid) conditions. We found that large initial size (hatchling mass) had moderate to strong, environment-dependent positive effects on larval and metamorphic traits in the acidic origin population, but only weak effects in the neutral origin population. Our results suggest that interactions between environmental conditions and initial size can be important determinants of individual performance, and that investment in large eggs is adaptive in acid environments. These findings emphasize the role of maternal effects as adaptations to environmental stress.

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