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Offspring performance and the adaptive benefits of prolonged pregnancy: experimental tests in a viviparous lizard


While, GM and Uller, T and Wapstra, E, Offspring performance and the adaptive benefits of prolonged pregnancy: experimental tests in a viviparous lizard, Functional Ecology, 23, (4) pp. 818-825. ISSN 0269-8463 (2009) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01544.x


Offspring locomotor performance has been shown to influence fitness related traits in a wide range of taxa. One potential mechanism by which viviparous animals can increase the performance (e.g. sprint speed) of their offspring is by prolonging pregnancy (beyond that required for complete development). However, to date studies examining this potentially important maternal effect have been largely descriptive. 2. The skink Egernia whitii is an ideal candidate species to examine the consequences of delayed parturition on the performance of offspring as it routinely gives birth asynchronously despite synchronous offspring development.3. Using correlative data from a natural population and experimental manipulations of birthing asynchrony, we tested the prediction that, within litters, last born offspring have a better locomotor performance than first born offspring.4. We show that prolonged pregnancy does significantly influence average offspring locomotor performance; however, contrary to predictions, he direction of this effect is dependent on gestation length and thus offspring date of birth. Last born offspring had significantly poorer performance than first born offspring in litters early in the season with this pattern reversed late in the season.5. These results do not support the hypothesis that prolonged retention of fully formed offspring consistently increases offspring performance; however, they may help us understand the asymmetries in offspring competitive ability generated by birthing asynchrony. © 2009 British Ecological Society.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:While, GM (Dr Geoff While)
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:57410
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2009-07-16
Last Modified:2014-11-26

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