Thermal effects on reptile reproduction: adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in a montane lizard

Rory S. Telemeco*, Rajkumar S. Radder, Troy A. Baird, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Interspecific comparisons suggest a strong association between cool climates and viviparity in reptiles. However, intraspecific comparisons, which provide an opportunity to identify causal pathways and to distinguish facultative (phenotypically plastic) effects from canalized (genetically fixed) responses, are lacking. We documented the reproductive traits in an alpine oviparous lizard, and manipulated thermal regimes of gravid females and their eggs to identify proximate causes of life-history variation. Embryonic development at oviposition was more advanced in eggs laid by females from high-elevation populations than in eggs produced by females from lower elevations. In the laboratory, experimentally imposed low maternal body temperatures delayed oviposition and resulted in more advanced embryonic development at oviposition. Warm conditions both in utero and in the nest increased hatching success and offspring body size. Our intraspecific comparisons support the hypothesis that viviparity has evolved in cold-climate squamates because of the direct fitness advantages that warm temperatures provide developing offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-655
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bassiana duperreyi
  • maternal manipulation hypothesis
  • reaction norm
  • parental care
  • squamate
  • viviparity


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