Australian lizards are outstanding models for reproductive biology research
Van Dyke, JU and Thompson, MB and Burridge, CP and Castelli, MA and Clulow, S and Disssanayake, DSB and Dong, CM and Doody, JS and Edwards, DL and Ezaz, T and Friesen, CR and Gardener, MG and Georges, A and Higgie, M and Hill, PL and Holleley, CE and Hoops, D and Hoskin, CJ and Merry, DL and Riley, JL and Wapstra, E and While, GM and Whiteley, SL and Whiting, MJ and Zozaya, SM and Whittington, CM, Australian lizards are outstanding models for reproductive biology research, Australian Journal of Zoology, 68, (4) pp. 168-199. ISSN 0004-959X (2021) [Refereed Article]
Australian lizards are a diverse group distributed across the continent and inhabiting a wide range of environments. Together, they exhibit a remarkable diversity of reproductive morphologies, physiologies, and behaviours that is broadly representative of vertebrates in general. Many reproductive traits exhibited by Australian lizards have evolved independently in multiple lizard lineages, including sociality, complex signalling and mating systems, viviparity, and temperature-dependent sex determination. Australian lizards are thus outstanding model organisms for testing hypotheses about how reproductive traits function and evolve, and they provide an important basis of comparison with other animals that exhibit similar traits. We review how research on Australian lizard reproduction has contributed to answering broader evolutionary and ecological questions that apply to animals in general. We focus on reproductive traits, processes, and strategies that are important areas of current research, including behaviours and signalling involved in courtship; mechanisms involved in mating, egg production, and sperm competition; nesting and gestation; sex determination; and finally, birth in viviparous species. We use our review to identify important questions that emerge from an understanding of this body of research when considered holistically. Finally, we identify additional research questions within each topic that Australian lizards are well suited for reproductive biologists to address.
social behaviour, mating behaviour, developmental biology, sexual conflict, chemical communication, squamate, reptile, ecology, evolution