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Comparative Reproductive Biology of Two Sympatric Tropical Lizards Chamaeleo jacksonii BOULENGER and Chamaeleo hoehnelii STEINDACHNER (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae)

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The reproductive biology of two sympatric tropical lizards Chamaeleo jacksonii and C. hoehnelii was investigated from April 1972 to June 1973 in Karatina, Kenya. The smallest gravid female was 80 mm SVL in C. jacksonii, and 67 mm SVL in C. hoehnelii. The smallest male showing enlarged testis, epididymis and as deferens was 90 mm SVL in C. jacksonii and 70 mm SVL in C. hoehnelii. The age at sexual maturity was estimated to be approximately 91/2 months for female C. hoehnelii and 101/2 months for male C. hoehnelii, 131/2 months for female C. jacksonii and 16 months for male C. jacksonii. Both species are viviparous. Monthly means of testis weight/SVL in C. jacksonii revealed a seasonal cycle with a minimum in August and a maximum in February. The monthly means of kidney weight/SVL showed a cyclic pattern slightly different from the testicular cycle, in that kidney size peaked during period in which actual matings were observed. Parturition began in mid-January and persisted into March in C. jacksonii. Post-reproductive quiescence extended from January to March. Vitellogenesis extended from mid-March through August, and the peak of ovulation occurred in August. Gestation began early in July and extended into February. Although female C. jacksonii require more than a year to mature, some apparently gave birth during their first post partum breeding season at an age of 14-15 months. The average litter size was 21.7 in C. jacksonii. Litter size increased strongly with SVL and age, and slightly with reproductive category. Reproductive effort was 46.7%, 51.9%, 46.4%, 42.8%, and 39.7%, respectively for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth year old individuals. Both male and female C. hoehnelii reproduced continuously throughout the year as shown by the testicular and kidney cycles for males, and by the continuous presence of yolked follicles, oviducal ova and fertilized ova every month for females. The average litter size was 13.7 in C. hoehnelii. Litter size correlated positively with SVL. Reproductive effort was 53.6%, 44.6%, 40.4%, and 40.5%, respectively for the first, second, third and fourth year old individuals. Although C. jacksonii and C. hoehnelii are two closely related species, and occur sympatrically, their reproductive patterns are widely divergent, and are found to be on the opposite sides of Tinkle's dichotomy. It is proposed that C. jacksonii and C. hoehnelii evolved in allopatry. The presently known distribution and current theory of lizard reproductive strategy support this proposal.

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC; 2: Biology Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47401, USA


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