Rock-paper-scissors (RPS) dynamics, which maintain genetic polymorphisms over time through negative frequency-dependent (FD) selection, can evolve in short-lived species with no generational overlap, where they produce rapid morph frequency cycles. However, most species have overlapping generations and thus, rapid RPS dynamics are thought to require stronger FD selection, the existence of which yet needs to be proved. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that two cumulative selective episodes, FD sexual selection reinforced by FD selection on offspring survival, generate sufficiently strong selection to generate rapid morph frequency cycles in the European common lizard Zootoca vivipara, a multi-annual species with major generational overlap. These findings show that the conditions required for the evolution of RPS games are fulfilled by almost all species exhibiting genetic polymorphisms and suggest that RPS games may be responsible for the maintenance of genetic diversity in a wide range of species.
Geographical body size variation has long interested evolutionary biologists, and a range of mechanisms have been proposed to explain the observed patterns. It is considered to be more puzzling in ectotherms than in endotherms, and integrative approaches are necessary for testing non-exclusive alternative mechanisms. Using lacertid lizards as a model, we adopted an integrative approach, testing different hypotheses for both sexes while incorporating temporal, spatial, and phylogenetic autocorrelation at the individual level. We used data on the Spanish Sand Racer species group from a field survey to disentangle different sources of body size variation through environmental and individual genetic data, while accounting for temporal and spatial autocorrelation. A variation partitioning method was applied to separate independent and shared components of ecology and phylogeny, and estimated their significance. Then, we fed-back our models by controlling for relevant independent components. The pattern was consistent with the geographical Bergmann's cline and the experimental temperature-size rule: adults were larger at lower temperatures (and/or higher elevations). This result was confirmed with additional multi-year independent data-set derived from the literature. Variation partitioning showed no sex differences in phylogenetic inertia but showed sex differences in the independent component of ecology; primarily due to growth differences. Interestingly, only after controlling for independent components did primary productivity also emerge as an important predictor explaining size variation in both sexes. This study highlights the importance of integrating individual-based genetic information, relevant ecological parameters, and temporal and spatial autocorrelation in sex-specific models to detect potentially important hidden effects. Our individual-based approach devoted to extract and control for independent components was useful to reveal hidden effects linked with alternative non-exclusive hypothesis, such as those of primary productivity. Also, including measurement date allowed disentangling and controlling for short-term temporal autocorrelation reflecting sex-specific growth plasticity.
The geographic distribution of evolutionary lineages and the patterns of gene flow upon secondary contact provide insight into the process of divergence and speciation. We explore the evolutionary history of the common lizard Zootoca vivipara (= Lacerta vivipara) in the Iberian Peninsula and test the role of the Pyrenees and the Cantabrian Mountains in restricting gene flow and driving lineage isolation and divergence. We also assess patterns of introgression among lineages upon secondary contact, and test for the role of high-elevation trans-mountain colonisations in explaining spatial patterns of genetic diversity. We use mtDNA sequence data and genome-wide AFLP loci to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among lineages, and measure genetic structure.
Abstract Carotenoids typically need reflective background components to shine. Such components, iridophores, leucophores, and keratin- and collagen-derived structures, are generally assumed to show no or little environmental variability. Here, we investigate the origin of environmentally induced variation in the carotenoid-based ventral coloration of male common lizards (Lacerta vivipara) by investigating the effects of dietary carotenoids and corticosterone on both carotenoid- and background-related reflectance. We observed a general negative chromatic change that was prevented by ?-carotene supplementation. However, chromatic changes did not result from changes in carotenoid-related reflectance or skin carotenoid content but from changes in background-related reflectance that may have been mediated by vitamin A1. An in vitro experiment showed that the encountered chromatic changes most likely resulted from changes in iridophore reflectance. Our findings demonstrate that chromatic variation in carotenoid-based ornaments may not exclusively reflect differences in integumentary carotenoid content and, hence, in qualities linked to carotenoid deposition (e.g., foraging ability, immune response, or antioxidant capacity). Moreover, skin carotenoid content and carotenoid-related reflectance were related to male color polymorphism, suggesting that carotenoid-based coloration of male common lizards is a multicomponent signal, with iridophores reflecting environmental conditions and carotenoids reflecting genetically based color morphs.
Measuring the intensity of sexual selection is of fundamental importance to the study of sexual dimorphism, population dynamics, and speciation. Several indices, pools of individuals, and fitness proxies are used in the literature, yet their relative performances are strongly debated. Using 12 independent common lizard populations, we manipulated the adult sex ratio, a potentially important determinant of the intensity of sexual selection at a particular time and place. We investigated differences in the intensity of sexual selection, as estimated using three standard indices of sexual selection-the standardized selection gradient (?), the opportunity of selection (I), and the Bateman gradient (?ss)--calculated for different pools of individuals and different fitness proxies. We show that results based on estimates of I were the opposite of those derived from the other indices, whereas results based on estimates of ? were consistent with predictions derived from knowledge about the species mating system. In addition, our estimates of the strength and direction of sexual selection depended on both the fitness proxy used and the pool of individuals included in the analysis. These observations demonstrate inconsistencies in distinct measures of sexual selection and underscore the need for caution when comparing studies and species.
Genetic, phenotypic and ecological divergence within a lineage is the result of past and ongoing evolutionary processes, which lead ultimately to diversification and speciation. Integrative analyses allow linking diversification to geological, climatic, and ecological events, and thus disentangling the relative importance of different evolutionary drivers in generating and maintaining current species richness.
Mating is crucial for females that reproduce exclusively sexually and should influence their investment into reproduction. Although reproductive adjustments in response to mate quality have been tested in a wide range of species, the effect of exposure to males and mating per se has seldom been studied. Compensatory mechanisms against the absence of mating may evolve more frequently in viviparous females, which pay higher direct costs of reproduction, due to gestation, than oviparous females. To test the existence of such mechanisms in a viviparous species, we experimentally manipulated the mating opportunity of viviparous female lizard, Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara. We assessed the effect of mating on ovulation, postpartum body condition and parturition date, as well as on changes in locomotor performances and body temperatures during the breeding cycle. Female lizards ovulated spontaneously and mating had no influence on litter size, locomotor impairment or on selected body temperature. However, offspring production induced a more pronounced locomotor impairment and physical burden than the production of undeveloped eggs. Postpartum body condition and parturition dates were not different among females. This result suggests that gestation length is not determined by an embryonic signal. In the common lizard, viviparity is not associated with facultative ovulation and a control of litter size after ovulation, in response to the absence of mating.
Carotenoid-based yellowish to red plumage colors are widespread visual signals used in sexual and social communication. To understand their ultimate signaling functions, it is important to identify the proximate mechanism promoting variation in coloration. Carotenoid-based colors combine structural and pigmentary components, but the importance of the contribution of structural components to variation in pigment-based colors (i.e., carotenoid-based colors) has been undervalued. In a field experiment with great tits (Parus major), we combined a brood size manipulation with a simultaneous carotenoid supplementation in order to disentangle the effects of carotenoid availability and early growth condition on different components of the yellow breast feathers. By defining independent measures of feather carotenoid content (absolute carotenoid chroma) and background structure (background reflectance), we demonstrate that environmental factors experienced during the nestling period, namely, early growth conditions and carotenoid availability, contribute independently to variation in yellow plumage coloration. While early growth conditions affected the background reflectance of the plumage, the availability of carotenoids affected the absolute carotenoid chroma, the peak of maximum ultraviolet reflectance, and the overall shape, that is, chromatic information of the reflectance curves. These findings demonstrate that environment-induced variation in background structure contributes significantly to intraspecific variation in yellow carotenoid-based plumage coloration.
Under chronic stress, carotenoid-based colouration has often been shown to fade. However, the ecological and physiological mechanisms that govern colouration still remain largely unknown. Colour changes may be directly induced by the stressor (for example through reduced carotenoid intake) or due to the activation of the physiological stress response (PSR, e.g. due to increased blood corticosterone concentrations). Here, we tested whether blood corticosterone concentration affected carotenoid-based colouration, and whether a trade-off between colouration and PSR existed. Using the common lizard (Lacerta vivipara), we correlatively and experimentally showed that elevated blood corticosterone levels are associated with increased redness of the lizards belly. In this study, the effects of corticosterone did not depend on carotenoid ingestion, indicating the absence of a trade-off between colouration and PSR for carotenoids. While carotenoid ingestion increased blood carotenoid concentration, colouration was not modified. This suggests that carotenoid-based colouration of common lizards is not severely limited by dietary carotenoid intake. Together with earlier studies, these findings suggest that the common lizards carotenoid-based colouration may be a composite trait, consisting of fixed (e.g. genetic) and environmentally elements, the latter reflecting the lizards PSR.
Recent studies indicate that directional female mate choice and order-dependent female mate choice importantly contribute to non-random mating patterns. In species where females prefer larger sized males, disentangling different hypotheses leading to non-random mating patterns is especially difficult, given that male size usually correlates with behaviours that may lead to non-random mating (e.g. size-dependent emergence from hibernation, male fighting ability). Here we investigate female mate choice and order-dependent female mate choice in the polygynandrous common lizard (Lacerta vivipara). By sequentially presenting males in random order to females, we exclude non-random mating patterns potentially arising due to intra-sexual selection (e.g. male-male competition), trait-dependent encounter probabilities, trait-dependent conspicuousness, or trait-dependent emergence from hibernation. To test for order-dependent female mate choice we investigate whether the previous mating history affects female choice. We show that body size and body condition of the male with which a female mated for the first time were bigger and better, respectively, than the average body size and body condition of the rejected males. There was a negative correlation between body sizes of first and second copulating males. This indicates that female mate choice is dependent on the previous mating history and it shows that the females choice criteria are non-static, i.e. non-directional. Our study therefore suggests that context-dependent female mate choice may not only arise due to genotype-environment interactions, but also due to other female mating strategies, i.e. order-dependent mate choice. Thus context-dependent female mate choice might be more frequent than previously thought.
Optimisation of reproductive investment is crucial for Darwinian fitness, and detailed long-term studies are especially suited to unravel reproductive allocation strategies. Allocation strategies depend on the timing of resource acquisition, the timing of resource allocation, and trade-offs between different life-history traits. A distinction can be made between capital breeders that fuel reproduction with stored resources and income breeders that use recently acquired resources. In capital breeders, but not in income breeders, energy allocation may be decoupled from energy acquisition. Here, we tested the influence of extrinsic (weather conditions) and intrinsic (female characteristics) factors during energy storage, vitellogenesis and early gestation on reproductive investment, including litter mass, litter size, offspring mass and the litter size and offspring mass trade-off. We used data from a long-term study of the viviparous lizard, Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara. In terms of extrinsic factors, rainfall during vitellogenesis was positively correlated with litter size and mass, but temperature did not affect reproductive investment. With respect to intrinsic factors, litter size and mass were positively correlated with current body size and postpartum body condition of the previous year, but negatively with parturition date of the previous year. Offspring mass was negatively correlated with litter size, and the strength of this trade-off decreased with the degree of individual variation in resource acquisition, which confirms theoretical predictions. The combined effects of past intrinsic factors and current weather conditions suggest that common lizards combine both recently acquired and stored resources to fuel reproduction. The effect of past energy store points out a trade-off between current and future reproduction.
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