The proposed project shall combine a theoretical and a practical approach to describe and analyse the evolution of reproductive strategies in amphibians as a key issue in the evolution of terrestriality. The main aim of the project is to decipher the development of viviparity and aims to test the hypothesis of a "oviparity-viviparity-continuum". A model of developmental stages describing this stage shall be verified in a theoretical approach for amphibians in general and in more detail in a practical approach focussed on selected species of caecilian amphibians. One part of the project will be to establish a comparative summary and analysis of known reproductive modes within all groups of amphibians.
This theoretical part of the project will be based on a de tailed comparative analysis of reproductive modes within the group of caecilians, which has been worked out within the ongoing project funded by the Marie Curie program. Another central issue will be to test the hypothesis of an "oviparity-viviparity-continuum". A practical approach will concentrate on the group of caecilians, which show a considerably high diversity of reproductive modes. Analysis of reproductive traits will be based on the phylogenetic relationship of selected taxa.
A hypothetical model of stages representing different degrees of oviparity and viviparity shall be defined by comparison of several amphibian species and across families. This project includes fieldwork, monitoring of ecological and morphological, evolutionary traits as well as histology and phylogeny. The fieldwork will focus to be evolutionary "hotspots" featuring a high diversity of amphibian species with a diverse range of reproductive modes. In all, the project seeks to generalise previous approaches to characterise the diversity of amphibian reproduction and deepen the understanding of the evolution of viviparity within caecilians.
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