Sex differences in optimal incubation temperatures in a scincid lizard species

Melanie J. Elphick, Richard Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most theoretical models for the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD) rely upon differential fitness of male and female offspring incubated under different thermal regimes. However, there are few convincing data on this topic. We studied incubation effects in a lizard species (Bassiana duperreyi, Scincidae) with genotypic sex determination, so that we could separate effects due to incubation temperatures from those due to offspring gender. We incubated eggs under two different fluctuating-temperature regimes that simulated hot and cold natural nest-sites. The effects of our incubation treatments on phenotypes of the hatchling lizards (morphology and locomotor performance) differed between the sexes. Females emerging from eggs exposed to the 'hot nest' treatment (diel cycling, 23-31°C) were larger, and ran faster, than did their sisters from the 'cold nest' treatment (16-24°C). Males showed a smaller and less consistent phenotypic response than females. These incubation-induced responses were relatively stable during the first few weeks of life post-hatching, at least in captive lizards maintained under laboratory conditions. These kinds of sex differences in the phenotypic responses of hatchling reptiles to incubation conditions provide a plausible basis for the evolution of temperature-dependent sex determination in reptiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
JournalOecologia
Volume118
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bassiana duperreyi
  • Embryo
  • Phenotype
  • Reptile
  • Thermal

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