The ‘male escape hypothesis’ : sex-biased metamorphosis in response to climatic drivers in a facultatively paedomorphic amphibian.

Abstract : Paedomorphosis is a major evolutionary process that bypasses metamorpho- sis and allows reproduction in larvae. In newts and salamanders, it can be facultative with paedomorphs retaining gills and metamorphs dispersing. The evolution of these developmental processes is thought to have been driven by the costs and benefits of inhabiting aquatic versus terrestrial habi- tats. In this context, we aimed at testing the hypothesis that climatic drivers affect phenotypic transition and the difference across sexes because sex-ratio is biased in natural populations. Through a replicated laboratory experiment, we showed that paedomorphic palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus) meta- morphosed at a higher frequency when water availability decreased and metamorphosed earlier when temperature increased in these conditions. All responses were sex-biased, and males were more prone to change pheno- type than females. Our work shows how climatic variables can affect facultative paedomorphosis and support theoretical models predicting life on land instead of in water. Moreover, because males metamorphose and leave water more often and earlier than females, these results, for the first time, give an experimental explanation for the rarity of male paedomor- phosis (the ‘male escape hypothesis’) and suggest the importance of sex in the evolution of paedomorphosis versus metamorphosis.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 29, 2017 - 9:38:52 AM
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Anthony G.E. Mathiron, Jean-Paul Léna, Sarah Baouch, Mathieu Denoël. The ‘male escape hypothesis’ : sex-biased metamorphosis in response to climatic drivers in a facultatively paedomorphic amphibian.. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2017, 284 (20170176), pp.1-7. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2017.0176⟩. ⟨hal-01528367⟩

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