Dealing with hot rocky environments: critical thermal maxima and locomotor performance in Leptodactylus lithonaetes (Anura: Leptodactylidae)

Iván Beltrán*, Valeria Ramírez-Castañeda, Camilo Rodríguez-López, Eloisa Lasso, Adolfo Amézquita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental temperature has fitness consequences on ectotherm development, ecology and behaviour. Amphibians are especially vulnerable because thermoregulation often trades with appropriate water balance. Although substantial research has evaluated the effect of temperature in amphibian locomotion and physiological limits, there is little information about amphibians living under extreme temperature conditions. Leptodactylus lithonaetes is a frog allegedly specialised to forage and breed on dark granitic outcrops and associated puddles, which reach environmental temperatures well above 40˚C. Adults can select thermally favourable microhabitats during the day while tadpoles are constrained to rock puddles and associated temperature fluctuations; we thus established microhabitat temperatures and tested whether the critical thermal maximum (CTmax) of L. lithonaetes is higher in tadpoles compared to adults. In addition, we evaluated the effect of water temperature on locomotor performance of tadpoles. Contrary to our expectations, puddle temperatures were comparable and even lower than those temperatures measured in the microhabitats used by adults in the daytime. Nonetheless, the CTmax was 42.3˚C for tadpoles and 39.7˚C for adults. Regarding locomotor performance, maximum speed and maximum distance travelled by tadpoles peaked around 34˚C, approximately 1˚C below the maximum puddle temperatures registered in the puddles. In conclusion, L. lithonaetes tadpoles have a higher CTmax compared to adults, suggesting a longer exposure to extreme temperatures that lead to maintain their physiological performance at high temperatures. We suggest that these conditions are adaptations to face the strong selection forces driven by this granitic habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalHerpetological Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • CTmax
  • Granitic rocks
  • Hot environment
  • Tadpoles
  • Thermal tolerance
  • CT


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