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A number of studies have documented interpopulation divergence in amphibian larval life-history traits across latitudes. Because many frogs are philopatric and have a patchy habitat distribution, genetic divergence could also exist on a much smaller geographical scale, revealed by recent estimates of population divergence using molecular markers. Whether this divergence is reflected in phenotypic traits is virtually unknown. Using artificial fertilization, individuals of the common frog, Rana temporaria, were crossed from two populations situated 130 km apart and differing in population size. The pattern of size at metamorphosis showed evidence of non-additive effects, as demonstrated by a significant interaction between male and female population of origin. Outbreeding resulted in an increase in metamorph size when eggs from the small population were fertilized with sperm from the large population. In the reciprocal cross, however, the pattern was in the opposite direction, with no significant effect of male population of origin. Genetic divergence of populations separated by a relatively short geographical distance may be more common in frogs than previously acknowledged, with potential implications for conservation of declining amphibian species. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London.

Original publication




Journal article


Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

Publication Date





189 - 195