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Incubation temperature and clutch effects on initial body sizes and growth rates in green iguana hatchlings (Iguana iguana)

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Large initial body size and rapid early growth rate are important in many species, both because predation rates decline as individuals grow and because females that attain a larger adult body size are more fecund. To identify possible factors contributing to size and growth rate variation in hatchling green iguanas, we artificially incubated six clutches at three constant temperatures to test for effects of incubation temperature and/or clutch effects on initial size and growth rate. Higher incubation temperatures resulted in significantly shorter incubation periods but did not influence initial body size. There were significant differences among clutches in egg size, and also in initial hatchling body size, even after correcting for differences in egg size among clutches. A subset of hatchlings from each nest was reared in semi-natural conditions for four months, with individuals from the high incubation temperature condition exhibiting the slowest longer-term growth rates. No clutch effects were detected in the growth rate analyses. The observed variation in early growth rate of juvenile iguanas seems to be selectively important and this variation may be due in part to the conditions the eggs experience during incubation, but clutch effects in this study were limited to egg size and initial hatchling body size variation, but were not found for subsequent growth rates.

Affiliations: 1: 1Departamento de Biología, Universidad de Córdoba, Carrera 6, No. 76-103, Montería, Colombia ; 2: 2Instituto de Biología, Universidad de Antioquia, Calle 70, No. 52-21, Medellín, Colombia

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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