Allometry of reproduction in two species of gekkonid lizards (Gehyra): effects of body size miniaturization on clutch and egg sizes


  • Paul Doughty

    1. School of Bilological Sciences, A08, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
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      Department of Zoology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands WA 6907, Australia


In squamate reptiles there is an allometric pattern for small-bodied females to have smaller clutches and proportionally larger eggs than large-bodied females, and this pattern occurs both among and within species. The allometric patterns in two species of the gecko Gehyra were studied to see how evolutionary reductions in adult body size affect fecundity and offspring size among species, and how these changes affect allometric relationships within species. Gehyra dubia has two eggs per clutch (the typical clutch size for gekkonid lizards), whereas the smallerbodied G. variegata has a single egg per clutch. Within both species, egg size increased with female body size. The data are consistent with at least two mechanistic hypotheses: (1) that the width of the pelvis constrains egg size; and (2) in species with invariant clutch sizes, larger females can only allocate additional energy towards egg size and not number. More direct tests of these hypotheses are warranted. Miniaturization of body sizes in Gehyra is correlated with a clutch size reduction of 50% (from two to one), and a large (1.7-fold) compensatory increase in relative egg mass. However, the small-bodied G. variegata (one egg per clutch) had a lower relative clutch mass than did G. dubia. These findings have implications for understanding the influence of evolutionary reductions in body size on reproductive traits, and for allometric trends in squamate reptiles in general.