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Influence of incubation conditions on hatching success, embryo development and hatchling phenotype of common chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) eggs

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Chameleons lay flexible-shelled eggs that are affected by environmental characteristics during incubation. We incubated eggs of six clutches under four treatments using two different constant temperatures (25 and 29°C) and water potentials (-150 kPa and-600 kPa). Eggs gained mass in all treatments, especially under the wetter and warmer conditions. Temperature, not water potential, affected hatching rate, which was 100% under 25°C and 64% under 29°C. Development time was considered as the period during which eggs were incubated under both constant temperatures and differed between treatments, from an average length of 98.8 days in the wettest and warmest media to 144.2 days in the driest and coldest one. Differences in hatchling phenotype were mostly explained by clutch identity, although it was also affected by incubation treatments, with bigger and heavier hatchlings in colder treatments. Incubation conditions did not affect hatchling growth nor survival rates, but survivors were differentiated by their higher increase in egg mass during incubation. Los huevos de los camaleones tienen la cáscara flexible, estando influidos por las características del medio en que se encuentran. Se incubaron huevos de seis puestas en cuatro tratamientos, usando dos temperaturas de incubación constantes (25 y 29°C) y dos potenciales hídricos (-150 kPa y-600 kPa). Los huevos incrementaron de peso en todos los tratamientos, principalmente en los de condiciones más húmedas y cálidas. La tasa de eclosión resultó influida por el efecto de la temperatura, pero no por el del potencial hídrico. Eclosionó el 100% de los huevos incubados a 25°C y el 64% de los incubados a 29°C. Se apreciaron diferencias en la duración del desarrollo entre los huevos incubados en los distintos tratamientos, variando el promedio entre 98.8 días (en las condiciones más húmedas y cálidas) y 144.2 días (en el más seco y frío). Las diferencias apreciadas en el fenotipo de las crías se atribuyen principalmente a su origen materno, aunque también se apreciaron influencias de las condiciones de incubación, resultando crías de mayor tamaño y peso en los tratamientos de menor temperatura. Las condiciones de incubación no afectaron al crecimiento ni a la supervivencia de las crías, sobreviviendo las que procedían de huevos con mayor incremento de peso durante la incubación.


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