Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 188, Issue 4, pp 635–647 | Cite as

Sex-specific thermal sensitivities of performance and activity in the asian house gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus

  • Skye F. CameronEmail author
  • Rebecca Wheatley
  • Robbie S. Wilson
Original Paper


Studies of sexual selection primarily focus on morphological traits such as body size and secondary trait dimorphism, with less attention been given to the functional differences between the sexes and even more so their thermal performance capacities. Each sex may benefit from possessing different thermal performance capacities that would allow them to maximise their fitness relative to their different reproductive roles; especially when performances are closely related to reproductive success. Here, we examine sexual divergence in thermal sensitivities of performance across three populations of the Asian house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) over an extensive latitudinal cline. Using analyses of the thermal sensitivity of routine activity, bite force and sprint speed, we explored whether: (i) males and females differed in their optimal temperatures for performance, (ii) the sexes differed in their thermal sensitivities of performance, and (iii) the degree of sexual divergence in thermal sensitivity varied among the populations. Because male H. frenatus are highly aggressive and frequently engage in combat to gain territories and mating opportunities, we expected males would be active over a wider range of temperatures than females and this would favour broad thermal sensitivity curves for males. In addition, we expected a greater divergence between the sexes in thermal sensitivities for the temperate populations that experience greater daily and seasonal thermal variation. We found that males were more active, and had greater bite forces and faster sprint speeds than females, independent of body size. In addition, we found differences between the sexes in thermal sensitivities for the tropical population; female H. frenatus were less active and possessed lower sprint speeds at higher temperatures than males. Although H. frenatus from the most variable thermal environments also displayed the broadest thermal performance range, it was the more stable tropical population that exhibited the greatest divergence between the sexes in thermal sensitivity of performance. The divergence in thermal physiology that we detected between the sexes of H. frenatus is consistent with the idea that males will derive mating and territorial advantages for maintaining function over a broader range of temperatures.


Bite force Latitudinal cline Performance Sexual divergence Sprint speed Thermal performance curve 



We thank G. David and T. Shuey for help with gecko collection. We also thank C. White and D. Booth and anonymous reviewers for valuable discussions and feedback. This work was supported by an Ecological Society of Australia Student Research Grant. All experiments were approved under the University of Queensland’s Animal Ethics Committee (AEC Approval Number-SBS/319/09).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Skye F. Cameron
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca Wheatley
    • 1
  • Robbie S. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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