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Maternal influences on offspring phenotypes and sex ratios in a multi-clutching lizard with environmental sex determination

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Maternal and environmental factors are important sources of phenotypic variation because both factors influence offspring traits in ways that impact offspring and maternal fitness. The present study explored the effects of maternal factors (maternal body size, egg size, yolk-steroid allocation, and oviposition-site choice) and seasonally-variable environmental factors on offspring phenotypes and sex ratios in a multi-clutching lizard with environmental sex determination (Amphibolurus muricatus). Maternal identity had strong effects on offspring morphology, but the nature of maternal effects differed among successive clutches produced by females throughout the reproductive season (i.e. maternal identity by environment interactions). The among-female and among-clutch variation in offspring traits (including sex ratios) was not mediated through maternal body size, egg size, or variation in yolk steroid hormones. This lack of nongenetic maternal effects suggests that phenotypic variation may be generated by gene by environment interactions. These results demonstrate a significant genetic component to variation in offspring phenotypes, including sex ratios, even in species with environmental sex determination. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 95, 256–266.
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Keywords: Amphibolurus muricatus; corticosterone; jacky dragon; maternal effects; nest temperatures; temperature-dependent sex determination; testosterone; yolk steroid hormones

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Publication date: 2008-10-01

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