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Within-population life history and demographic variation in the striped plateau lizard, Sceloporus virgatus

Geoffrey Rogers Smith, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


I studied life history and demographic variation within a population of the striped plateau lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) for three years in the Chiricahua Mountains of SE Arizona. Individuals tend to use the same habitat, slope, and site within and among years. Growth rate and survivorship varied among years, with growth rates and survivorship correlated with rainfall and arthropod abundance. Reproduction in first year females did not result in a decrease in either growth rate or survivorship. Growth rates, survivorship, and the proportion of females reproducing in their first year differed between slopes and habitats. These differences were generally consistent with observations on the length of activity periods and arthropod abundance on the specific slope or habitat. Growth and survivorship of hatchling lizards in the laboratory were linearly related to the amount of food eaten. Tail break frequencies did not differ among years, slopes, nor habitats. Growth rates were depressed in individuals with broken tails but survivorship was unaffected. Ectoparasite loads were unevenly distributed among individuals in this population, with slope, but not habitat, having an effect on ectoparasite loads. Growth rate was slightly depressed by mite load. Growth rate was inversely related to an individual's home range size and overlap. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that 50% of the variation in growth rate in this population is explained by body size, with sex explaining another 25%. Year and slope also had significant, but relatively minor effects on growth rate. This is the first study in lizards showing that factors causing among year or among population life history variation can cause among individual life history variation.

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Recommended Citation

Smith, Geoffrey Rogers, "Within-population life history and demographic variation in the striped plateau lizard, Sceloporus virgatus" (1995). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9528833.