Recent global warming threatens many species and has already caused population- and species-level extinctions. In particular, high risks of extinction are expected for isolated populations of species with low dispersal abilities. These predictions rely on widely used ‘climatic envelope’ models, while individual responses, the ultimate driver of a species response to climate change, have been most often neglected. Here, we report on some changes in life-history traits of a dispersal-limited reptile species (a poorly studied taxa) living in isolated populations. Using long-term data on common lizards collected in southern France, we show that individual body size dramatically increased in all the four populations studied over the past 18 years. This increase in body size in all age classes appeared related to a concomitant increase in temperature experienced during the first month of life (August). Daily maximum temperature in August increased by 2.2°C and yearling snout-vent-length increased by about 28%. As a result, adult female body size increased markedly, and, as fecundity is strongly dependent on female body size, clutch size and total reproductive output also increased. For one population where capture–recapture data were available, adult survival was positively related to May temperature. All fitness components investigated therefore responded positively to the increase in temperature, such that it might be concluded that the common lizard has been advantaged by the shift in temperature. We contrast these short-term results with the long-term habitat-based prediction that these populations located close to mountain tops on the southern margin of the species range should be unable to cope with the alteration of their habitat. To achieve a better prediction of a species persistence, one will probably need to combine both habitat and individual-based approaches.
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