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Geographic variation in offspring size of a widespread lizard (Takydromus septentrionalis): importance of maternal investment

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Geographic variation in offspring size is widespread, but the proximate causes of this variation have not yet been explicitly determined. We compared egg size and egg contents among five populations of a lizard (Takydromus septentrionalis, Günther, 1864) along a latitudinal gradient, and incubated eggs at two temperatures to determine the influence of maternal investment and incubation temperature on offspring size. The mean values for female size and egg size were both greater in the two northern populations (Chuzhou and Anji) than in the three southern populations (Lishui, Dongtou, and Ningde). The larger eggs were entirely attributable to the body size of females in the Anji population, but their increased size also stemmed from further enlargement of egg size relative to female body size in Chuzhou, the northernmost population sampled in this study. Eggs of the Chuzhou population contained more yolk and less water than those of southern populations. Despite the lower lipid content in the yolk, eggs from the Chuzhou population had higher energy contents than those from the two southern populations, owing to the larger egg size and increased volume of yolk. Hatchling size was not affected by incubation temperature, but differed significantly among populations, with hatchlings being larger in the Chuzhou population than in the other populations. Our data provide an inference that oviparous reptiles from cold climates may produce larger offspring, not only by increasing egg size but also by investing more energy into their eggs. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 101, 59–67.
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Keywords: Reptilia; developmental plasticity; egg size; egg yolk

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, 210046, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China 2: School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Wenzhou University, 325035, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China 3: Department of Biology, Lishui University, Lishui 323000, Zhejiang, China 4: Department of Biology, Chuzhou University, 239012, Chuzhou, Anhui, China

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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