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Altitudinal variation in reproductive strategy of the toad-headed lizard, Phrynocephalus vlangalii in North Tibet Plateau (Qinghai)

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Phrynocephalus vlangalii, a toad-headed viviparous sand lizard, is endemic in the Northern Tibet (Qinghai) Plateau in China. Lizards were collected from 14 localities along the large altitudinal gradient (2289-4565 m a.s.l) to analyze the variation of reproductive traits among localities. Both litter size and mean offspring (scaled embryo) mass were positively correlated with female snout-vent length (SVL). Females produced fewer and larger offspring with increasing elevation when the effect of body size (SVL) was removed. This strategy may possibly be correlated with early survival and growth of offspring. The decreased litter size cline along altitudinal gradient might be correlated with more anatomical constraints at higher altitudes. The lizard has lower coefficient of variation (CV) of litter size at higher environments. Moreover, females from higher elevations had less reproductive investment (relative litter mass, RLM). Study concluded that P. vlangalii fit into the common pattern of higher elevation animals that have smaller clutches of larger offspring and lower reproductive effort.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Zoology, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, 222 Tianshui South Road, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000, China; 2: Institute of Zoology, School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, 222 Tianshui South Road, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000, China;, Email:


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