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Keywords:

  • global warming;
  • phenotypic variation;
  • reproductive output;
  • Scincella modesta;
  • thermal environment

Abstract

The impact of climate warming on organisms is increasingly being recognized. The experimental evaluation of phenotypically plastic responses to warming is a critical step in understanding the biological effects and adaptive capacity of organisms to future climate warming. Oviparous Scincella modesta live in deeply-shaded habitats and they require low optimal temperatures during embryonic development, which makes them suitable subjects for testing the effects of warming on reproduction. We raised adult females and incubated their eggs under different thermal conditions that mimicked potential climate warming. Female reproduction, embryonic development and hatchling traits were monitored to evaluate the reproductive response to warming. Experimental warming induced females to lay eggs earlier, but it did not affect the developmental stage of embryos at oviposition or the reproductive output. The high temperatures experienced by gravid females during warming treatments reduced the incubation period and increased embryonic mortality. The locomotor performance of hatchlings was not affected by the maternal thermal environment, but it was affected by the warming treatment during embryonic development. Our results suggest that climate warming might have a profound effect on fitness-relevant traits both at embryonic and post-embryonic stages in oviparous lizards.