Reproductive performance of a lacertid lizard at the core and the periphery of the species’ range

J. A Diaz, J Pérez-Tris, Dirk Bauwens, D Pérez-Aranda, R Carbonell, T Santos, J. L Telleria

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    Abstract

    The range boundaries of organisms are frequently interpreted in terms of a decline in the extent to which the life histories of outer populations are able to adapt to local environmental conditions. To test this hypothesis, we compared the reproductive characteristics of two Iberian populations of the lizard Psammodromus algirus (Linnaeus, 1758). One of them (Lerma) is close to the northern edge of the species’ range, whereas the other one (El Pardo) occupies a typical core habitat 200 km further south. Gravid females were captured in the field and transported to the lab for egg laying. Second clutches were less frequent at Lerma (where clutch size and clutch mass were larger for first than for second clutches) than at El Pardo. The total mass of both clutches combined was similar at both sites. Thus, the higher frequency of second clutches at El Pardo appeared to balance the between-sites difference in energy allocation to the first clutch. Females from Lerma laid more but smaller eggs than those from El Pardo. When incubated at the same temperature, eggs from Lerma hatched sooner even when controlling for between-sites differences in mean egg size. These differences are interpreted in the light of the advantages of early hatching and high fecundity in the northern population, as opposed to large offspring size in the core population. We conclude that the life-history traits studied show enough variation, presumably of an adaptive nature, to cope with environmental challenges at the edge of the species’ range.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Volume92
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)87-96
    Number of pages10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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