All in one: single-season multi-clutching in an ephemeral pool-breeding frog that is otherwise virtually semelparous

J. Gould, J. Clulow, P. Rippon, R. Upton, S. Clulow

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The sandpaper frog, Lechriodus fletcheri, is a temperate anuran that has previously been shown to be virtually semelparous, with adults overwhelmingly reproducing in a single year of life. Yet, this species almost exclusively oviposits in highly ephemeral pools where there is a high chance of total reproductive failure due to hydroperiods often being unpredictable and too short for their offspring to reach metamorphosis. We sought to understand how L. fletcheri copes reproductively in such a risky breeding environment in the absence of a classical iteroparous life history. We investigated aspects of reproduction in wild and laboratory-reared individuals to determine whether females are capable of intra-seasonal multi-clutching and/or clutch partitioning, and males of fertilizing multiple clutches. Direct field evidence was obtained that males participated in multiple mating events within season, while indirect evidence of this ability in females was obtained based on laboratory-held individuals that produced an additional batch of mature oocytes weeks after an initial release of eggs. Our findings suggest that both males and females likely have the capacity to participate in multiple reproductive events within season and, while most adults may not reproduce more than once, that they are abbreviate iteroparous rather than truly semelparous. Our findings provide evidence that short-lived anurans may exploit alternative bet-hedging strategies that mimic the fitness benefits of multi-year iteroparity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-235
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Zoology
Issue number3
Early online date5 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


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