Evol Ecol Res 9: 169-183 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Testing the persistence of phenotypic plasticity after incubation in the western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis

Christine R. Buckley,1* Maddalena Jackson,2 Mina Youssef,2 Duncan J. Irschick1* and Stephen C. Adolph2

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tulane University, 310 Dinwiddie Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118 and  2Department of Biology, Harvey Mudd College, 1250 N. Dartmouth Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711, USA


Hypothesis: Phenotypic variation in traits induced by different incubation temperatures does not persist into the lifetime of young lizards, and therefore contributes little to variation in long-term fitness.

Organism: Western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis).

Methods: Split-clutch laboratory incubation experiment including eggs from two different populations under two different incubation regimes, measurement of morphological traits at hatching, and tracking of morphology and temperature preference behaviour for 7 weeks after hatching.

Results: Several morphological traits, including body mass, hindlimb length, inter-limb length, and tail length, initially differed between the two incubation treatments, but only the difference in tail length persisted to age 7 weeks. Thermal preference was relatively conserved, with juveniles showing no difference in mean selected body temperatures across treatments; however, warm-incubated lizards thermoregulated more precisely than their cool-incubated counterparts.

Conclusion: Studies of incubation effects can reveal changes in animal phenotypes post-hatching, but if these effects do not persist, they may not be subject to natural selection and consequently be of little ecological relevance.

Keywords: incubation, performance, phenotypic plasticity, Sceloporus occidentalis, thermoregulation.

IF you are connected using the IP of a subscribing institution (library, laboratory, etc.)
or through its VPN.


        © 2007 Christine R. Buckley. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

       Subscribing institutions/libraries may grant individuals the privilege of making a single copy of an EER article for non-commercial educational or non-commercial research purposes. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also use articles for non-commercial educational purposes by making any number of copies for course packs or course reserve collections. Subscribing institutions/libraries may also loan single copies of articles to non-commercial libraries for educational purposes.

       All copies of abstracts and articles must preserve their copyright notice without modification.