Authors: Pablo Burraco, Anssi Laurila and Germán Orizaola (UMIB-UNIOVI).  

Article published on: Oikos



Changes in phenology are among the most pervasive effects of current climate change. Modifications in the timing of life-cycle events can affect the behavior, physiology and life-history of wildlife. However, organisms can develop compensatory strategies in order to reduce the costs of phenological alterations. Here, we examine the extent and limits of compensatory developmental responses in amphibian larvae exposed to variation in hatching timing. Using a common-garden experiment, we analyze how changes in temperature and food conditions alter compensatory responses to hatching delay, paying particular attention at how adverse environmental conditions can constrain these responses. We found that under benign conditions (warm temperature, unrestricted food) larvae fully compensate for the hatching delay, without cost in mass. However, under detrimental conditions (cold temperature and restricted food) these responses were prevented, and the combination of adverse conditions with long hatching delay completely disrupt compensatory responses. This study highlights the need of examining ecological responses to climate variation across a broad spectrum of environmental conditions in order to accurately predict the putative effect that climatic alterations can have on the life-histories and survival of wildlife. Keywords: amphibians, catch-up responses, developmental plasticity, metamorphosis, phenology, starvation, temperature