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Fluctuations in incubation temperature affect incubation duration but not morphology, locomotion and growth of hatchlings in the sand lizard Lacerta agilis (Lacertidae)

Authors

  • Hong Li,

    1. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
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  • Zong-Shi Zhou,

    1. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
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  • Guo-Hua Ding,

    1. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
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  • Xiang Ji

    1. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China
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Xiang Ji, Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China. E-mail: xji@mail.hz.zj.cn

Abstract

Li, H., Zhou, Z.-S., Ding, G.-H. and Ji, X. 2011. Fluctuations in incubation temperature affect incubation duration but not morphology, locomotion and growth of hatchlings in the sand lizard Lacerta agilis (Lacertidae). —Acta Zoologica (Stockholm) 00: 1–8.

Studies looking for potential effects of temperature and temperature fluctuations on phenotypic traits of reptile hatchlings have shown species variation, but have not always allowed a distinction between effects of fluctuation per se and temperature extremes themselves. To examine whether incubation temperature fluctuation has a key role in influencing the phenotype of offspring, we incubated eggs of the sand lizard Lacerta agilis at one of the four temperature regimes (27, 27 ± 2, 27 ± 4 and 27 ± 6 °C). We found that: (1) hatchlings incubated under the four temperature regimes did not differ from each other in any of the morphological and physiological traits examined; (2) interactions that included temperature treatment did not affect any trait examined; (3) the mean incubation length was longer in the 27 ± 6 °C treatment than in the other three treatments; and (4) female hatchlings were shorter in head length and width but longer in snout-vent length as well as abdomen length than males derived from the same-sized egg. Our data show that both the type and the magnitude of temperature variation can affect incubation length. We found no evidence for phenotypic divergence in responses to temperature fluctuations during incubation and therefore suggest that temperature variation does not affect the phenotype of hatchlings in L. agilis.

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