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J Exp Zool A Comp Exp Biol. 2006 Jan 1;305(1):47-54.

Effects of constant and fluctuating temperatures on egg survival and hatchling traits in the northern grass lizard (Takydromus septentrionalis, Lacertidae).

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Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Life Sciences, Hangzhou Normal College, Zhejiang, People's Republic of China.


To understand how nest temperatures influence phenotypic traits of reptilian hatchlings, the effects of fluctuating temperature on hatchling traits must be known. Most investigations, however, have only considered the effects of constant temperatures. We incubated eggs of Takydromus septentrionalis (Lacertidae) at constant (24 degrees C, 27 degrees C, 30 degrees C and 33 degrees C) and fluctuating temperatures to determine the effects of these thermal regimes on incubation duration, hatching success and hatchling traits (morphology and locomotor performance). Hatching success at 24 degrees C and 27 degrees C was higher, and hatchlings derived from these two temperatures were larger and performed better than their counterparts from 30 degrees C and 33 degrees C. Eggs incubated at fluctuating temperatures exhibited surprisingly high hatching success and also produced large and well-performed hatchlings in spite of the extremely wide range of temperatures (11.6-36.2 degrees C) they experienced. This means that exposure of eggs to adversely low or high temperatures for short periods does not increase embryonic mortality. The variance of fluctuating temperatures affected hatchling morphology and locomotor performance more evidently than did the mean of the temperatures in this case. The head size and sprint speed of the hatchlings increased with increasing variances of fluctuating temperatures. These results suggest that thermal variances significantly affect embryonic development and phenotypic traits of hatchling reptiles and are therefore ecologically meaningful.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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