Vol. 17 No. 1 (2022)

Re-description of external morphology and factors affecting body and tail shape of the stone frog tadpoles

Brena da Silva Gonçalves
Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Departamento de Biologia. Avenida Rodrigo Otávio, 6500, Japiim, CEP 69077000 - Manaus, Amazonas
Carla D. Hendges
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, CEP 97105-900, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul
Bruno Madalozzo
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, CEP 97105-900, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul
Tiago G. Santos
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, CEP 97105-900, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul
Published May 14, 2022
  • Anuran larvae,
  • Alsodidae,
  • geometric morphometrics,
  • allometry,
  • streamlet depth
How to Cite
da Silva Gonçalves, B., Hendges, C. D., Madalozzo, B., & Santos, T. G. (2022). Re-description of external morphology and factors affecting body and tail shape of the stone frog tadpoles. Acta Herpetologica, 17(1), 59-70. https://doi.org/10.36253/a_h-11315


Ecological studies testing the preponderance of environmental filters on ontogeny to explain the variation in tadpole morphology are scarce for Neotropical anurans. We used tadpoles of the stone frog Limnomedusa macroglossa (Alsodidae): (1) to assess the variation in body and tail shape; (2) to examine the effect of streamlet depth and allometry on tadpole shape, and (3) to re-describe and compare the tadpole external morphology with closely related species. We obtained the body shape and size from 150 tadpoles. The re-description was based on 57 qualitative and 24 quantitative characters, from 19 tadpoles between stages 30 and 37 and 31 to 37, respectively. Allometry was the major factor influencing the lateral view of body shape: smaller tadpoles had round bodies and eyes and nostrils positioned more laterally in comparison with larger ones. Thus, the power of ontogenetic variations reported here makes the tadpole developmental “climax” period a questionable concept that deserves additional attention. The depth gradient of streamlets also affected the shape: in shallower environments, the tadpoles presented a decrease in height of the body, fins and tail muscles, and an increase in body width. These results may indicate adaptations allowing better swimming performance in lotic environments with intense water flow. The external morphological characterization of L. macroglossa presented here differed from that previously reported, mainly due to coloration, body shape, nostril, anal tube, tail, shape and position of nostrils and snout. Additionally, we presented unknown traits for this species, making comparisons with closely related species within the Alsodidae family.


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