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Zeng, Cen; Gomez-Mestre, Ivan and Wiens, John J. (2014): Evolution of Rapid Development in Spadefoot Toads Is Unrelated to Arid Environments.
In: PLOS ONE 9(5), e96637 [PDF, 399kB]


The extent to which species' life histories evolve to match climatic conditions is a critical question in evolutionary biology and ecology and as human activities rapidly modify global climate. GIS-based climatic data offer new opportunities to rigorously test this question. Superficially, the spadefoot toads of North America (Scaphiopodidae) seem to offer a classic example of adaptive life-history evolution: some species occur in extremely dry deserts and have evolved the shortest aquatic larval periods known among anurans. However, the relationships between the climatic conditions where spadefoots occur and the relevant life-history traits have not been explicitly tested. Here, we analyzed these relationships using GISbased climatic data, published life-history data, and a time-calibrated phylogeny for pelobatoid frogs. Surprisingly, we find no significant relationships between life-history variables and precipitation or aridity levels where these species occur. Instead, rapid development in pelobatoids is strongly related to their small genome sizes and to phylogeny.

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