Identifying sources of variation in reproductive and life-history traits among five populations of a Chinese lizard (Takydromus septentrionalis, Lacertidae)

Wei-Guo Du, Xiang Ji, Yong-Pu Zhang, Xue-Feng Xu, Richard Shine

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72 Citations (Scopus)


Research on life-history traits of squamate reptiles has focused on North American species, while Asian taxa have been virtually ignored. In order to understand general patterns in reptile life histories, we need a broader data base. Our study on the slender-bodied lacertid lizard Takydromus septentrionalis provides the first detailed information on factors responsible for intraspecific variation in reproductive output and life history in a Chinese reptile. Clutches of recently collected lizards from five widely separated localities in China revealed major divergences in female body size at maturation, mean adult female body size, body condition after oviposition, size-adjusted fecundity, relative clutch mass, and mass and shape of eggs. Most of these geographical differences persisted when the same groups of females were maintained in identical conditions in captivity. Additionally, reproductive frequency during maintenance under laboratory conditions differed according to the animals' place of origin. Thus, the extensive geographical variation in reproductive and life-history traits that occurs within T. septentrionalis is exhibited even in long-term captives, suggesting that proximate factors that vary among localities (local conditions of weather and food supply) are less important determinants of life-history variation than are intrinsic (presumably genetic) influences. The maternal abdominal volume available to hold the clutch may be one such factor, based on low levels of variation in Relative Clutch Mass among populations, and geographical variation in the position of trade-off lines linking offspring size to fecundity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Allometry
  • Body size
  • Fecundity
  • Geographical variation
  • Offspring size
  • Reproductive output
  • Reptile
  • Trade-off


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