We studied growth, development, and metamorphic traits of Polypedates braueri tadpoles in Taiwan to elucidate the cause of tadpole overwintering in man-made water containers in lowland orchards on the Bagua Terrace. Polypedates braueri bred from March to August, but tadpoles were present year round. Laboratory experiments demonstrated that tadpole overwintering was facultative; low temperatures and limited food retarded both growth and development, resulting in overwintering in the tadpole stage. Tadpoles at the lowest experimental temperature (15°C) never reached metamorphosis. A field experiment demonstrated that 78, 28, and 4% of tadpoles raised in high, medium, and low food regimes, respectively, metamorphosed before the onset of winter. Tadpoles that did not metamorphose by fall continued to grow slowly and either metamorphosed during the winter or the following spring. These findings indicate that food availability plays a key role in inducing overwintering in tadpoles. Jumping performance of metamorphs was positively correlated with food regimes, but body lipid content was significantly higher in metamorphs raised with either low or high food regimes than in those with medium levels of food. Overwintering by P. braueri tadpoles has not been previously reported; however, agricultural activities have created new breeding habitats (i.e., man-made bodies of water), some of which are sufficiently food-limited that tadpoles overwinter to complete development and metamorphosis. An understanding of the survivorship, life history traits, and physiology of these frogs is needed to shed light on how man-made breeding sites affect the population dynamics of native frog populations.
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Vol. 68 • No. 2