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AGE ASSESSMENT THROUGH SKELETOCHRONOLOGY IN AMPHIBIANS OF THE NEOTROPICS - CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
STANESCU, F.; VLAD, S. E.; TELEA, A.; SZEKELY, D.; MARANGONI, F.; COGALNICEANU, D.
Conferencia; European Conference of Tropical Ecology; 2020
Amphibians are the most endangered group of terrestrialvertebrates. With over 8100 species, these ectotherms arecharacterized by highly complex and diverse life histories andadaptations. The highest amphibian species diversity is withinthe Neotropical realm. Age and growth parameters are keycomponents of life-history adaptations and trade-offs, shapingpopulation responses to environmental changes. Individual ageestimation in ectotherms is possible through skeletochronology,a technique that allows counting lines of arrested growth in the bone tissue (i.e.,phalanges), similar to aging trees through dendrochronology. The method is non-lethaland relatively fast, with reliable estimates, especially for individuals up to 10 yearsold. We searched the published literature (600+ papers) where skeletochronology wasgeneral protocol for aging amphibians using skeletochronology became well established.Less than 10% of the published studies involved Neotropical amphibians (i.e., fromArgentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Mexico). We performed areview of these studies in order to highlight the main challenges and opportunities thatarise. Skeletochronology proved to be a valuable tool in revealing life-history strategiesand trade-offs in Neotropical species. For example, some of the most important resultsrevealed that species from unpredictable and arid environments exhibit strong lifehistorytrade-offs, compromising longevity for reproductive success. Such informationis vital when drafting adequate conservation measures. Indeed, skeletochronology maynot be suitable to all species, especially to those from unseasonal environments. Theapplicability of the method can be further tested in a wide array of Neotropical speciesfrom various habitats by making use of readily available museum specimens.