Large-scale systematic patterns of body size are a basic concern of evolutionary biology. Identifying body size variation along altitudinal gradients may help us to understand the evolution of life history of animals. In this study, we investigated altitudinal variation in body size, age and growth rate in Chinese endemic frog, Pelophylax pleuraden. Data sampled from five populations covering an altitudinal span of 1413 to 1935 m in Sichuan province revealed that body size from five populations did not co-vary with altitudes, not following Bergmann's rule. Average adult SVL differed significantly among populations in males, but not in females. For both sexes, average adult age differed significantly among populations. Post-metamorphic growth rate did not co-vary with altitude, and females grew faster than males in all populations. When controlling the effect of age, body size did not differ among populations in both sexes, suggesting that age did not affect variation in body size among populations. For females, there may be other factors, such as the allocation of energy between growth and reproduction, that eliminated the effect of age on body size. To our minds, the major reason of body size variation among populations in male frogs may be related to individual longevity. Our findings also suggest that factors other than age and growth rate may contribute to size differences among populations.
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Vol. 29 • No. 8