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Contrasting seasonal patterns of telomere dynamics in response to environmental conditions in the ectothermic sand lizard, Lacerta agilis


Axelsson, J and Wapstra, E and Miller, E and Rollings, N and Olsson, M, Contrasting seasonal patterns of telomere dynamics in response to environmental conditions in the ectothermic sand lizard, Lacerta agilis, Scientific Reports, 10, (1) Article 182. ISSN 2045-2322 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-019-57084-5


Telomeres, the protective, terminal parts of the chromosomes erode during cell division and as a result of oxidative damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Ectotherms rely on the ambient temperature for maintaining temperature-dependent metabolic rate, regulated through behavioural thermoregulation. Their temperature-dependant metabolism, hence also the ROS production, is indirectly regulated through thermoregulation. Consequently, a potential causal chain affecting telomere length and attrition is: temperature (in particular, its deviation from a species-specific optimum) – metabolism - ROS production – anti-oxidation - telomere erosion. We measured telomere length in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) using qPCR on blood samples from 1998-2006. Effects of climatological parameters (mean temperature and average sunshine hours) in the summer and winter preceding telomere sampling were used as predictors of telomere length in mixed model analysis. During the lizards’ active period (summer), there was a largely negative effect of mean temperature and sun on telomere length, whereas a combined measure of age and size (head length) was positively related to telomere length. During the inactive period of lizards (winter), the results were largely the opposite with a positive relationship between temperature and sunshine hours and telomere length. In all four cases, thermal and age effects on telomere length appeared to be non-linear in the two sexes and seasons, with complex response surface effects on telomere length from combined age and thermal effects.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Evolutionary ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:143757
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-03-31
Last Modified:2021-05-26
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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