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Seasonal and interpopulational phenotypic variation in morphology and sexual signals of Podarcis liolepis lizards

Abstract : Widespread species often show extensive phenotypic variation due to the contrasting abiotic and biotic factors that shape selective pressures in different environments. In this context, the gradual and predictable patterns of variation in climatic and environmental conditions found in mountain areas offer a great opportunity to explore intraspecific phenotypic variation. For instance, temperature is negatively correlated with altitude and virtually all aspects of the behavior and physiology of ectotherms are sensitive to body temperature. In this work, we tested the hypothesis that morphology, dorsal and ventral coloration and the chemical profile of femoral secretions show interpopulational and seasonal variation in the lacertid lizard (Podarcis liolepis). We compared lizards from three populations inhabiting lowland and highland habitats in the French Pyrenees that were closely related genetically. We found that highland lizards were larger, stockier, had longer heads and more femoral pores and had a darker dorsal coloration than lowland ones. In addition, we detected interpopulational differences in both the abundance and the richness of chemical compounds in the glandular secretions, and we also found seasonal variation in the overall chemical composition. Dorsal and ventral coloration differed seasonally and between populations. Ventral and dorsal brightness were higher in lowland than in highland lizards in the reproductive season whereas the reversed trend was found in the non-reproductive season but only for dorsal brightness. In addition, all lizards had browner dorsal coloration in the non-reproductive season, and lowland lizards were greener in the reproductive season. By integrating information from both visual and chemical systems, our works offers a comprehensive view of how these lizards communicate in a multimodal context.
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Contributor : Pierre-André Crochet <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 26, 2020 - 4:04:39 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 3:07:19 AM

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Jesús Ortega, José Martin, Pierre-André Crochet, Pilar López, Jean Clobert. Seasonal and interpopulational phenotypic variation in morphology and sexual signals of Podarcis liolepis lizards. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2019, 14 (3), pp.e0211686. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0211686⟩. ⟨hal-02399992⟩

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