We assessed the effects of short-term, naturally oscillating, climate variation on Crawfish Frogs ( Lithobates areolatus ), a long-lived member of the family Ranidae. Our data demonstrate 1) no relationship between drought conditions (high temperatures, low precipitation) and either breeding onset (phenological shifts) or breeding peaks; 2) no relationship between drought and adult survivorship (although there were trends; both females and males experienced their lowest survivorship estimates during the wettest years, a contrary finding related to crayfish burrow occupancy); 3) a strong relationship between drought and breeding duration; 4) a strong, inverse correlation between drought and body condition in both females and males; and as a result, 5) a relationship between drought and fecundity with potentially serious demographic consequences. If we assume that the mass of an individual egg remains constant under various climate conditions—i.e., that a reduction in egg mass equals a reduction in egg number not egg size—the effects of drought may be severe. Our estimated average difference of 2,647 eggs produced by individual females between wet and dry years translates into an estimated loss of 137 breeding adults recruited into this population following droughts, compared with wet year recruitment.
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Vol. 105 • No. 4