An ecophysiological background for biogeographic patterns of two island lizards?
Distributions of sedentary ectotherms are dependent on temperature and humidity due to their low homeostatic and dispersal abilities. Lizards are strongly conditioned by temperature, but hydric environment may be also important, at least in arid environments. Biotic interactions may also play a role in range patterns, but they are of minor importance in islands where native species monopolize well-delimited niche spaces. On the arid island of São Vicente (Cabo Verde), two endemic lizards display different spatial patterns. While the gecko Tarentola substituta is widely distributed across the island, the skink Chioninia stangeri is restricted to the NE, which is cooler, more humid, and vegetated. We hypothesized that this is due to differences in the fundamental niche, specifically in ecophysiology. We predict that C. stangeri should select for lower temperatures and lose more water by evaporation than T. substituta. We submitted adults of each species to standard experiments to assess preferred body temperatures (Tp) and evaporative water loss (EWL) rates, and examined the variation between species and through time using repeated-measures AN(C)OVAs. Results only partially supported our expectations. Contrary to the prediction, skinks attained higher Tp than geckos but in the long term showed a trend for higher EWL as predicted. Thus, while ecophysiology certainly contributes to functional interpretation of species distributions, it needs to be combined with other evidence such as habitat use and evolutionary history. These findings will be useful to perform mechanistic models to better understand the impact of climate change and habitat disturbance on these endemic species.
KeywordsReptiles Preferred temperatures Water loss rates Biogeography Arid systems
This article is the output number 1 from the Twin-lLb CIBIO/InBIO-UniCV’s protocol. We thank the Departamento de Engenharias e Ciencias do Mar of the University of Cabo Verde for logistic support. This work was funded by Cabeólica S.A. and FEDER funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors – COMPETE and by National Funds through Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) under the UID/BIA/50027/2013, POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006821, and FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-008929 PTDC/BIA-BEC/101256/2008. RV was supported by a post-doctoral grant (SFRH⁄BPD⁄79913/2012) from FCT under the Programa Operacional Potencial Humano – Quadro de Referência Estratégico Nacional funds from the European Social Fund and Portuguese Ministério da Educação e Ciência. We also thank S. Delgado, P. Vasconcelos, Z. Monteiro, R. Monteiro, J. Ramos, S. da Luz, S. Delgado, M. Lourenço, E. Fernandes, M. Fortes, M dos Santos, and K. Delgado for field assistance.
Compliance with ethical standards
Experiments followed the ethical guidelines of Universities of Cabo Verde and Porto. Study permit (no. 07/2016) was provided by Direcção Geral do Ambiente, Ministério do Ambiente, Habitação e Ordenamento do Território of Cabo Verde.
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