Date of Completion

Spring 5-6-2016

Project Advisor(s)

Tracy Rittenhouse; Eric Schultz; Ashley Helton

University Scholar Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Zoology


This project seeks to analyze how predicted changes in climate and its interactions with other environmental factors will influence tadpole growth and development. Our first study examined how the frequency and magnitude of temperature variability affect wood frog and gray tree frog tadpole performance. We found that performance responses to repeatedly fluctuating treatments did not differ significantly from constant temperatures held at the same mean for wood frog tadpoles. However, elevated mean temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius caused tadpoles to metamorphose early, suggesting a potential developmental threshold. We found that gray tree frog performance was affected by fluctuating temperature treatments, with a small mass and reduced development time following an extreme temperature fluctuation late in development and increased development time under a biweekly temperature fluctuation pattern. Our second study was concerned with determining how elevated temperatures, road salts, interspecific competition, and the interactions between these factors affected the survival, growth, and development of wood frog and spring peeper tadpoles. Ultimately we found that performance responses were influenced by elevated temperatures, road salts, and interspecific competition and by synergistic interactions between the factors. Additionally, both species responded similarly to the aforementioned stressors, with the exception of mass at metamorphosis. We suggest further examination of temperature variability and the consideration of synergistic interactions when mitigating the threat of climate change to amphibian populations in the future.