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Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0716-9760

Abstract

NAYA, DANIEL E  and  BOZINOVIC, FRANCISCO. Digestive Phenotypic Flexibility in Post-Metamorphic Amphibians: Studies on a Model Organism. Biol. Res. [online]. 2004, vol.37, n.3, pp.365-370. ISSN 0716-9760.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0716-97602004000300002.

Studies of phenotypic flexibility are central to the understanding of evolutionary and comparative physiology. Research conducted on many vertebrate species has shown that the digestive system is highly responsive and sensitive to environmental cues. However, amphibians, which are a standard and classic model organism for the study of many physiological processes, have been poorly considered in the study of ecological consequences on digestive flexibility. Here we review and analyze the current information on this topic for amphibians. We identify three major bodies of empirical evidence: a) seasonal changes in gut development, b) lack of dietary modulation of gut attributes in adult individuals, c) a relationship between feeding habits and the magnitude of digestive performance regulation. Once the natural history characteristics of the species under study are taken into account, all the evidence is in full agreement with the predictions of digestive theory. We propose that evolutionary and comparative physiology could benefit greatly from the study of phenotypic flexibility in amphibians

Keywords : Amphibians; digestive theory; gut adjustments; phenotypic flexibility.

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