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Unisexual rock lizard might be outcompeting its bisexual progenitors in the Caucasus




We compared the distributions, abundances and ecological requirements of parthenogenetic lizard Darevskia ‘dahli’ and its bisexual progenitors, D. portschinskii and D. mixta, in Georgia. We developed a regression model relating the species abundances with the distribution of climates. Darevskia portschinskii lives in warmer and drier climates than D. mixta; D. ‘dahli’ has the intermediate requirements. Temperature is more important than humidity for D. portschinskii, humidity is more important for D. mixta and both temperature and humidity are important for D. ‘dahli’. Suitable habitats of all three species overlap broadly; however, the observed ranges partly overlap only for D. ‘dahli’ and D. portschinskii. The observed abundance of each species, related to its predicted abundance, is lower at the sites with potential competitors. Darevskia ‘dahli’ occupies a higher proportion of the suitable habitats and has higher abundances than the progenitor species. Competition with D. ‘dahli’ is an important factor determining current distribution pattern of D. portschinskii and D. mixta. The parthenogen is a stronger competitor than the bisexual breeders and potential advantages of the bisexual reproduction remain unrealized in the given temporal and spatial scale. To explain domination of bisexually breeding lizards on the global scale, considering climate changes in geological timescale is necessary. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 101, 447–460.