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Keywords:

  • Interpopulation variation;
  • life history;
  • lizard;
  • reproduction;
  • sexual dimorphism

Abstract

The spiny lizard Sceloporus grammicus (Squamata: Phrynosomatidae) is a small reptile from central México and the southern United States, occurring in a wide geographic area characterized by extensive variation in topographic and climatic regimes. Genetic variation among lineages from central México is substantial, though the extent to which this variation corresponds with life-history traits remains obscure. To address part of this puzzle, we studied a population of S. grammicus from Tepeapulco, Hidalgo, México. Male-biased sexual dimorphism was extensive in this population; males were larger than females overall, and expressed proportionately larger heads and longer limbs. Minimum size at sexual maturity was similar in the sexes (males: 43 mm; females: 42 mm). In contrast to other populations from the Central Plateau, reproductive activity of males and females was synchronous. Testicular recrudescence of adult males was initiated in October–November, and maximum testis size maintained from December to July. Female reproductive activity showed no clear seasonal pattern: females had vitellogenic follicles from October to July, and pregnant females were found throughout the year. Female body size was not related to litter size. Neither male nor female gonadal mass was correlated with any abiotic environmental variable examined. Differences in reproductive characteristics among populations of S. grammicus might be indicative of plasticity in response to local environmental conditions, local adaptation, or complex gene × environment interactions. We consider these results in the context of previously studied populations of S. grammicus from the Central Plateau and elsewhere, and propose directions for future research.