Differential jumping performance in newly metamorphosed Blanchard's cricket frogs, Acris blanchardi (Anura: Hylidae), from fish- and invertebrate-dominated ponds
Organisms that adopt phenotypically plastic anti-predator strategies during larval stages may incur fitness costs later in development. These costs are typically difficult to define in many species. The difficulty identifying ecological trade-offs may result from experimental comparisons that do not adequately mirror naturally occurring predator-prey relationships. To examine this, we captured 61 newly metamorphosed Acris blanchardi from ponds dominated either by fish or invertebrate predators. These predators are known to induce alternate phenotypic anti-predator responses at the larval stage. We used jumping performance as a measure of post-metamorphic fitness, and compared the morphological traits and jumping ability of frogs from ponds with and without fish. Frogs from fishless ponds can jump significantly farther than frogs from fish-dominated ponds. Morphological measurements indicated that overall frog size determined differences in jumping ability, with hind-leg length primarily explaining jumping performance. Difference in hind-leg length positively correlated with overall body size, which differed between the two types of ponds and did not result form allometric growth between them. Differences in frog sizes presumably are related to differences in developmental anti-predator morphologies in larvae.