Evolution of viviparity in warm-climate lizards: an experimental test of the maternal manipulation hypothesis
JI, X. | LIN, C.-X. | LIN, L.-H. | QIU, Q.-B. | DU, Y.
The maternal manipulation hypothesis for the evolution of reptilian viviparity has been claimed to apply to any situation where gravid females are able to maintain body temperatures different from those available in external nests, but empirical data that support this hypothesis are very limited. Here, we tested this hypothesis using gravid females of a warm-climate lizard, Mabuya multifasciata, by subjecting them to five thermal regimes for the whole gestation period. We found gravid females selected lower body temperatures and thermoregulated more precisely than did nongravid females. Offspring produced in different treatments differed in head size, limb length and sprint speed, but not in overall body size or mass. Variation in morphological traits of offspring was induced primarily by extreme temperatures. Sprint speed of offspring was more likely affected by the mean but not by the variance of gestation temperatures. Gravid females maintained more stable body temperatures than did nongravid females not because these temperatures resulted in the optimization of offspring phenotypes but because the range of temperatures optimal for embryonic development was relatively narrow. Our data conform to the main predictions from the maternal manipulation hypothesis that females should adjust thermoregulation during pregnancy to provide optimal thermal conditions for developing embryos and that phenotypic traits forged by maternal thermoregulation should enhance offspring fitness.Show more [+] Less [-]