If selective forces on locomotor ability and reproductive biology differ among habitats, we expect to see relationships between habitat, morphology, and life-history traits. Comparative (phylogenetically based) analysis of data from 12 pythonid and 12 boid snake species reveals multiple evolutionary shifts in habitat use, notably in the evolution of arboreal habits. Compared to terrestrial and aquatic taxa of the same overall body size, arboreal species have narrower and more laterally compressed bodies and relatively longer tails. Offspring sizes are not affected by arboreality, but presumably reflecting space constraints within their narrow bodies, arboreal species (1) produce smaller clutch sizes relative to maternal body length and (2) have left and right ovaries that overlap little if at all along the length of the body (i.e., the right ovary is positioned anterior to the left ovary) whereas in terrestrial snakes the two ovaries overlap along much of their length. This modification of ovarian morphology in arboreal snakes presumably reduces the degree of bodily distension during vitellogenesis and pregnancy, thus enhancing climbing ability and camouflage among the branches.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2007|
Bibliographical noteCopyright by the Ecological Society of America. Originally published in Pizzatto, L., Almeida-Santos, S. M., & Shine, R. (2007). Life‐history adaptations to arboreality in snakes. Ecology, 88(2), 359-366.
- clutch size
- ovarian position