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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2002 Jun 1;127(1):16-25.

Small changes in whole-body corticosterone content affect larval Rana pipiens fitness components.

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Department of Biology, 3065C Natural Science Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1048, USA.


In amphibians, large changes in tissue corticosterone content (caused by treatment with large doses of hormone) alter tadpole growth and development, but the effects of smaller changes on growth, development, behavior, and morphology are unknown. In the current study, we exposed pre-metamorphic Rana pipiens tadpoles to moderate doses (62 and 125 nM) of exogenous corticosterone by adding it to the rearing water. We then analyzed effects on growth, development, behavior, morphology, and the endogenous corticosterone response to exogenous adrenocorticotropic releasing hormone (ACTH). A 50% elevation in whole-body corticosterone content was associated with slowed growth and development, increased tail muscle depth, and a diminished corticosterone response to ACTH. Behavior was unaffected by corticosterone administration. Treatment with the corticoid synthesis inhibitor metyrapone (MTP) reduced whole-body corticosterone content by 50% and was associated with increased size at metamorphosis but no change in time to metamorphosis. Our findings support the hypothesis that corticoids can mediate growth, developmental, and morphological responses of tadpoles to changing environmental conditions. Our results also demonstrate that even small changes in corticosterone content can have important implications for amphibian fitness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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