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Relative importance of reproductive life-history paths in one population of the lizard Sceloporus grammicus

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Life cycles of living organisms are composed of distinct sub-cycles that represent alternative life-history paths with differential impact on fitness. We identified three reproductive life-history paths (referred here as loops) in the life cycle of one population of the viviparous lizard Sceloporus grammicus. We evaluated the relative importance of each one of these reproductive paths for the population fitness of these lizards during a 5-year period. The first path corresponded to early reproduction and included survival to maturity and early fecundity. The second path was late reproduction loop and included survival to larger adult sizes with the corresponding fecundity rate. The third was composed of those individuals skipping the small adult stage within a single year, reaching larger sizes early in life with their corresponding larger litters (fast growth loop). To examine the potential effects of environmental factors on the relative contribution of these alternative life-history paths to fitness, we estimated stage-specific survival and growth as functions of annual temperature and rainfall. Using these estimates of vital rates we constructed annual population projection matrices. Then, using demographic elasticities and loop analysis, we calculated the relative contribution of each of the three reproductive paths to the population growth rates. Our results showed that the early reproduction loop is the path with the greatest relative contribution to the population growth rate in most years. However, increases in environmental temperature resulted in higher population growth rates and in greater contribution of the fast growth path to the overall fitness of these lizards.

Affiliations: 1: 1Laboratorio Especializado de Ecología, Departamento de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Distrito Federal 04510, México; 2: 2Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Toluca, Estado de México 50200, México; 3: 3Laboratorio de Sistemática Molecular, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, Mineral de la Reforma, Hidalgo 42184, México; 4: 4Laboratorio de Biología de la Reproducción Animal, Departamento de Biología Comparada, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Distrito Federal 04510, México; 5: 5Laboratorio de Herpetología, Departamento de Zoología, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Distrito Federal 04510, México


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