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Phenotypic Plasticity of Growth and Survival in the Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara

Gabriele Sorci, Jean Clobert and Sophie Belichon
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 65, No. 6 (Nov., 1996), pp. 781-790
DOI: 10.2307/5676
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5676
Page Count: 10
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Phenotypic Plasticity of Growth and Survival in the Common Lizard Lacerta vivipara
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Abstract

1. In this study we investigated sources of variation in growth rate and survival in the common lizard Lacerta vivipara. 2. We conducted two experiments to identify factors that explain the pattern of geographic variation of life-history traits in this species. In the first experiment, we raised hatchlings from two French populations of L. vivipara, located at low (150m) and high (1400m) altitudes, under identical laboratory conditions. The hatchlings grew at the same rate when experiencing the same environmental conditions irrespective of their origin. This finding suggests that the observed differences in growth rate between these two populations of L. vivipara are driven by environmental factors (e.g. thermal environment) rather than genetic divergence. Although we did not find any genetic difference between populations, we found some evidence of within-population variation in growth rate. 3. In a second experiment, we raised hatchlings from the high altitude population in outdoor enclosures located at low and high altitudes. The site where hatchlings were raised had a large impact on both growth and survival. Lizards located in the low altitude site grew faster and had a higher mortality rate than lizards located in the high altitude site. These findings are consistent with the observed differences in growth and survival between the natural populations inhabiting the two localities. 4. In spite of the low statistical power of the models used to detect the family X environment interactions, we found a marginally significant interaction for survival (P = 0.054), which suggests that phenotypic plasticity of this trait may have some degree of genetic variance. 5. Finally, we did not find any evidence for a genetic correlation between growth and survival in the high altitude population. This suggests that the observed phenotypic trade-off between the two traits may arise from environmental constraints (e.g. more active lizards have higher growth rates but also have higher risks of predation). 6. Overall, our findings emphasize that environmental factors may play a major role in shaping patterns of life-history association in L. vivipara, and in explaining geographic variation of life histories.

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