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Reproductive Investment of a Lacertid Lizard in Fragmented Habitat

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We studied the effect of habitat fragmentation on female reproductive investment in a widespread lacertid lizard ( Psammodromus algirus) in a mixed-forest archipelago of deciduous and evergreen oak woods in northern Spain. We captured gravid females in fragments (≤10 ha) and forests (≥ 200 ha) and brought them to the laboratory, where they laid their eggs. We incubated the eggs and released the first cohort of juveniles into the wild to monitor their survival. Females from fragments produced a smaller clutch mass and laid fewer eggs (relative to mean egg mass) than females of similar body size from forests. Lizards did not trade larger clutches for larger offspring, however, because females from fragments did not lay larger eggs (relative to their number) than females from forests. Among the first cohort of juveniles, larger egg mass and body size increased the probability of recapture the next year. Thus, fragmentation decreased the relative fecundity of lizards without increasing the quality of their offspring. Reduced energy availability, increased predation risk, and demographic stochasticity could decrease the fitness of lizards in fragmented habitats, which could contribute to the regional scarcity of this species in agricultural areas sprinkled with small patches of otherwise suitable forest. Our results show that predictable reduction of reproductive output with decreasing size of habitat patches can be added to the already known processes that cause inverse density dependence at low population numbers.
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Keywords: Psammodromus; calidad de hábitat; clutch size; egg size; forest fragmentation; fragmentación de bosque; habitat quality; tamaño de huevo; tamaño de puesta

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden 2: Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, E-28040 Madrid, España 3: Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias del Medio Ambiente, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Avenida Carlos III s/n, E-45071 Toledo, España

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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