Low precipitation aggravates the impact of extreme high temperatures on lizard reproduction
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Extreme high temperatures are occurring more frequently with ongoing anthropogenic climate warming, but the experimental tests of the effects of high temperatures on terrestrial vertebrates in natural conditions are rare. In this study, we investigated the effects of extreme high temperatures on female reproduction and offspring traits of multi-ocellated racerunners (Eremias multiocellata) kept in field enclosures in the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia. Our studies indicate that high temperatures significantly affect the gestation period and reproductive output of females and the offspring sex ratio, but have little impact on offspring body size and mass. More interestingly, we found that the effect of extreme high temperatures on female reproductive output was not consistent between two consecutive years that differed in precipitation. Low precipitation may aggravate the impact of climate warming on lizards and negatively affect the survival of lizards in the desert steppe. Our results provide evidence that temperature interacts with precipitation to determine the life history of lizards, and they suggest that a drier and hotter environment, such as the future climate in arid mid-latitude areas, will likely impose severe pressure on lizard populations, which are an important component of the food web in desert areas around the world.
KeywordsEremias multiocellata Lizard Reproductive output Thermal environment Water
We thank Shao-Yong Chen and Zhi-Liang Jie for their assistance in the field and laboratory. This work was supported by grants from the One Hundred Talents Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (31372203).
Author contribution statement
W. G. D. designed the study, Y. W., Z. G. Z., S. R. L. and J. H. B. conducted experiments, W. G. D. and Y. W. analysed data, and wrote the paper.
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