Manipulation of egg production reveals costs of reproduction in the tree lizard (Urosaurus ornatus)

  • Landwer A
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Life-history theory predicts that the alloca- tion of energy to current reproduction is associated with a decrement in future fecundity, future survival, or both. I treated this notion as the "cost hypothesis", and tested the assumption that current reproduction exacts a "cost" in future survival and fecundity. Surgical manipulations of egg production were applied to natural populations of the tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus, in south western New Mexico by yolkectomy surgery in two different years. I reduced the number of eggs produced in the first clutch during vitellogenesis by approximately 50% in yolkectomized females rela- tive to controls. Subsequent survival, fecundity, and growth of females were followed for two or three years, depending on the cohort. Treated females in both cohorts showed significantly higher growth and sur- vivorship throughout the experiment than in controls. After 2 years, yolkectomized females had grown an additional 2 mm (snout-vent length) compared to con- trols, enough for them to add on average an addi- tional egg to their next clutch. This demonstrated a cost in terms of future fecundity through a reduction in growth and an increase in mortality in these lizards

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cost of reproduction
  • Experimental manipulation
  • Fecundity
  • Growth
  • Urosaurus ornatus

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  • Allan J. Landwer

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