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The roles of pre- and post-hatching growth rates in generating a latitudinal cline of body size in the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)




Countergradient variation in norms of reaction can dampen the direct effects of environmental influences on phenotypic traits, allowing phenotypic similarity among populations despite exposure to different environmental conditions. Such norms of reaction may occur at any phase of the life-history (e.g. growth rates during both embryonic and postembryonic stages may influence geographical variation in adult body size). We collected gravid female lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) from northern (Indiana), central (Mississippi), and southern (Florida) populations, spanning almost the full latitudinal range of the species. Adult females from the southern population were smaller. Intrinsic growth rates of hatchlings were higher for the central population than for the other two populations. This pattern does not parallel the countergradient variation previously found in embryonic developmental rates among these populations. Earlier hatching enhanced survival rates of juveniles to a similar degree among populations, although juvenile survival rates in the field generally increase with latitude in this species. Our data reveal geographical variation in the ways in which intrinsic developmental/growth rates and survival shift during ontogeny, and suggest that latitudinal patterns in adult body size (such as Bergmann's rule) can result from both faster growth, and longer periods of growth. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 106, 202–209.