Ecology of an alpine population of the slow worm, Anguis fragilis Linnnaeus, 1758. Thermal biology of reproduction

  • Capula M
  • Luiselli L
  • 17


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In several reptile species there are differences in thermal requirements of gravid and non-gravid females, the fonner ones basking more frequently and/or maintaining higher body temperatures. An alpine population of the live-bearing anguid Anguis fragilis LINNAEUS, 1758 was studied in this respect. Body temperatures were measured with a cloacal thermometer. Mean body temperature was higher in gravid than in non-gravid females (27.04 °C versus 25.28 °C). Also modal body temperatures of active animals were higher in gravid females. Correlation between ambient and body temperature was weak in both gravid and non-gravid females. A. fragilis appears as a thermoregulator rather than a thennoconfonner, at least during sunny days suited for basking activities. Gravid individuals bask by exposing their body directly to the sun, while non-gravid ones usually bask by staying under sunwanned objects. As a consequence, gravid females are probably more exposed to visually orientated predators. This is an important life-history feature, as increased prédation on gravid females means increased costs associated with reproduction.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Activity
  • Alpine environment
  • Anguidae
  • Anguis
  • Body temperature
  • Ethology
  • Italy
  • PDF
  • Physiology
  • Sauria
  • Thermoregulation
  • fragilis

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  • M Capula

  • L Luiselli

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