The evolution of reproductive modes and life cycles in amphibians

H. Christoph Liedtke, John J. Wiens, Ivan Gomez-Mestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Amphibians have undergone important evolutionary transitions in reproductive modes and life-cycles. We compare large-scale macroevolutionary patterns in these transitions across the three major amphibian clades: frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. We analyse matching reproductive and phylogenetic data for 4025 species. We find that having aquatic larvae is ancestral for all three groups and is retained by many extant species (33–44%). The most frequent transitions in each group are to relatively uncommon states: live-bearing in caecilians, paedomorphosis in salamanders, and semi-terrestriality in frogs. All three groups show transitions to more terrestrial reproductive modes, but only in caecilians have these evolved sequentially from most-to-least aquatic. Diversification rates are largely independent of reproductive modes. However, in salamanders direct development accelerates diversification whereas paedomorphosis decreases it. Overall, we find a widespread retention of ancestral modes, decoupling of trait transition rates from patterns of species richness, and the general independence of reproductive modes and diversification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7039
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of reproductive modes and life cycles in amphibians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this