Polyandry in dragon lizards

inbred paternal genotypes sire fewer offspring

Celine H. Frère*, Dani Chandrasoma, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Multiple mating in female animals is something of a paradox because it can either be risky (e.g., higher probability of disease transmission, social costs) or provide substantial fitness benefits (e.g., genetic bet hedging whereby the likelihood of reproductive failure is lowered). The genetic relatedness of parental units, particularly in lizards, has rarely been studied in the wild. Here, we examined levels of multiple paternity in Australia's largest agamid lizard, the eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii), and determined whether male reproductive success is best explained by its heterozygosity coefficient or the extent to which it is related to the mother. Female polyandry was the norm: 2/22 clutches (9.2%) were sired by three or more fathers, 17/22 (77.2%) were sired by two fathers, and only 3/22 (13.6%) clutches were sired by one father. Moreover, we reconstructed the paternal genotypes for 18 known mother-offspring clutches and found no evidence that females were favoring less related males or that less related males had higher fitness. However, males with greater heterozygosity sired more offspring. While the postcopulatory mechanisms underlying this pattern are not understood, female water dragons likely represent another example of reproduction through cryptic means (sperm selection/sperm competition) in a lizard, and through which they may ameliorate the effects of male-driven precopulatory sexual selection. Multiple mating in female animals is something of a paradox because it can either be risky or provide substantial fitness benefits. Here, we show that female polyandry in the eastern water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii) was the norm but found no evidence that females were favouring less related males or that less related males had higher fitness. We, however, are the first study to show that males with greater heterozygosity (less inbred) sired more offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1686-1692
Number of pages7
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume5
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • cryptic female choice
  • genetic benefits
  • genotype reconstruction
  • GERUD
  • inbreeding
  • polyandry
  • reptile
  • sexual selection
  • sperm competition

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