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Living at the edge: lower success of eggs and hatchlings at lower elevation may shape range limits in an alpine lizard

AuthorsMonasterio, Camila; Verdú Ricoy, Joaquín ; Salvador Milla, Alfredo ; Díaz, José A.
KeywordsAlpine lizard
Growth rate
Hatching success
Incubation temperature
Local adaptation
Range limits
Issue DateAug-2016
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
Linnean Society of London
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society 118(4): 703-991 (2016)
AbstractStudies on range limits clarify the factors involved in the extent of species occurrence and shed light on the limits to adaptation. We studied the effects of elevational variation on the thermal dependence of fitness-related traits (incubation time, hatching rate, and survivorship, size, and condition of hatchlings) to assess the role of incubation requirements in distribution range limits of the alpine endemic Iberolacerta cyreni. We captured gravid females from two core (summit) and two marginal (low-elevation edge) populations, we incubated their eggs at three temperatures (22, 26, and 30 °C), and we monitored phenotypic effects. Viability of eggs and hatchlings decreased, independently of elevation, as incubation temperature increased. Hatching success and embryo survivorship were lower for clutches from low-elevation areas than for those from mountain summits, showing that lizards face difficulties thriving at the low-elevation edge of their range. Such difficulties were partly counterbalanced by faster postnatal growth at lower elevations, leading to increased adult size and higher fecundity. High incubation temperature had detrimental effects also at low-elevation areas, and no elevational variation in the thermal dependence of hatchling traits was detected. We suggest that temperature effects on egg development and the lack of selective pressures strong enough to foster local adaptation at marginal areas, combined with extended egg retention, may contribute to shape the range limits of these alpine oviparous reptiles.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bij.12766
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