Invasive toads adopt marked capital breeding when introduced to a cooler, more seasonal environment
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Amphibians from cold and seasonal environments show marked capital breeding and sustained resource allocation to growth when compared with conspecifics from warmer, less seasonal environments. Capital breeding fuels reproduction by using only stored energy, and larger sizes and masses confer higher fecundity, starvation resistance and heat and water retention. Invasive populations act as experiments to explore how resources are allocated in novel environments. We investigated resource allocation of the southern African toad Sclerophrys gutturalis in a native source population (Durban) and in an invasive population recently (< 20 years) established in a cooler, more seasonal climate (Cape Town). After dissection, lean structural mass (bones and muscles), gonadal mass, liver mass and body fat percentage were measured in 161 native and invasive animals sampled at the beginning and the end of the breeding season. As expected, female gonadal mass decreased throughout the breeding season only in the invaded range. Thus, invasive female toads adopt a more marked capital breeding strategy than native conspecifics. Conversely, males from both populations appear to be income breeders. Also, male and female toads from the invaded range allocate more resources to growth than their native counterparts. Such a novel allocation strategy might be a response to the low temperatures, reduced rainfall and heightened seasonality encountered by the invasive population.
- RESEARCH: Davies, S