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Giving offspring a head start in life: field and experimental evidence for selection on maternal basking behaviour in lizards


Wapstra, E and Uller, T and While, GM and Olsson, M and Shine, R, Giving offspring a head start in life: field and experimental evidence for selection on maternal basking behaviour in lizards, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 23, (3) pp. 651-657. ISSN 1010-061X (2010) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01924.x


The timing of birth is often correlated with offspring fitness in animals, but experimental studies that disentangle direct effects of parturition date and indirect effects mediated via variation in female traits are rare. In viviparous ectotherms, parturition date is largely driven by female thermal conditions, particularly maternal basking strategies. Our field and laboratory studies of a viviparous lizard (Niveoscincus ocellatus) show that earlier-born offspring are more likely to survive through their first winter and are larger following that winter, than are later-born conspecifics. Thus, the association between parturition date and offspring fitness is causal, rather than reflecting an underlying correlation between parturition date and maternal attributes. Survival selection on offspring confers a significant advantage for increased maternal basking in this species, mediated through fitness advantages of earlier parturition. We discuss the roles of environmentally imposed con- straints and parent�offspring conflict in the evolution of maternal effects on parturition date.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:basking behaviour � birth date � female strategies � offspring growth � offspring survival � parent�offspring conflict � selection � squamate reptile � viviparity
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
UTAS Author:While, GM (Dr Geoff While)
ID Code:63296
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:62
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2010-04-27
Last Modified:2012-09-10

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