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Isolation and predation drive gecko life-history evolution on islands

AuthorsSchwarz, Rachel; Itescu, Yuval; Antonopoulos, Antonis; Gavriilidi, Ioanna-Aikaterini; Tamar, Karin; Pafilis, Panauiotis; Meiri, Shai
KeywordsAegean Islands
Clutch frequency
Clutch size
Egg volume
Island biology
Island syndrome
Life-history traits
Issue DateMar-2020
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationBiological Journal of the Linnean Society 129(3): 618-629 (2020)
AbstractInsular animals are thought to be under weak predation pressure and increased intraspecific competition compared with those on the mainland. Thus, insular populations are predicted to evolve ‘slow’ life histories characterized by fewer and smaller clutches of larger eggs, a pattern called the ‘island syndrome’. To test this pattern, we collected data on egg volume, clutch size and laying frequency of 31 Aegean Island populations of the closely related geckos of the Mediodactylus kotschyi species complex. We tested how predation pressure, resource abundance, island area and isolation influenced reproductive traits. Isolation and predation were the main drivers of variation in life-history traits. Higher predator richness seemed to promote faster life histories, perhaps owing to predation on adults, whereas the presence of boas promoted slower life histories, perhaps owing to release from predation by rats on the eggs of geckos. Insular geckos followed only some of the predictions of the ‘island syndrome’. Predation pressure seemed to be more complex than expected and drove life histories of species in two opposing directions. Our results highlight the importance of considering the identity of specific predators in ecological studies.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blz187
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