Effect of early thermal environment on the morphology and performance of a lizard species with bimodal reproduction

Iván Beltrán*, Victorien Durand, Rebecca Loiseleur, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Early developmental environments influence life-history traits and survival of reptiles. In fact, rising global temperatures have already caused widespread extinctions among lizards. Viviparous species might be more susceptible to increasing temperatures because of their inability to meet their energetic demands following rapid environmental changes. Nevertheless, we do not yet fully understand how lizards with different reproductive modes can respond to climate change. We investigated the effect of both maternal thermal environment during pregnancy and incubation temperature on hatchling morphology and physiological performance of two populations of the lizard Saiphos equalis differing in their mode of reproduction, to test whether reproductive mode affects the ability to buffer against rising temperatures. Gravid females from both populations were subjected to current or projected end-of-century (future) thermal environments, to evaluate differences in the body size, growth rate, thermal preference, and locomotor performance of their offspring. Our results show that independently of the mode of reproduction, high temperatures accelerated gestation periods. Thermal environments did not affect hatchling thermal preference, but viviparous hatchlings consistently preferred lower temperatures. Unlike viviparous lizards, oviparous hatchlings incubated under future temperatures were smaller and had a lower growth rate compared to current-incubated hatchlings. Finally, thermal environments did not affect hatchling endurance and speed when controlling for body size. Our results show that global warming is likely to have a negative impact on S. equalis, but suggest that some of its effects may be ameliorated by maternal responses during pregnancy, particularly in viviparous populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-809
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Climate change
  • Growth rate
  • Incubation temperature
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Squamate
  • Viviparity


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