, Volume 185, Issue 4, pp 573–582 | Cite as

Are viviparous lizards more vulnerable to climate warming because they have evolved reduced body temperature and heat tolerance?

  • Zheng Wang
  • Li Ma
  • Min Shao
  • Xiang JiEmail author
Physiological ecology - original research


Lizards may experience population declines and extinctions on a similar scale to that experienced by amphibians, and climate warming is one hypothesis proposed to explain these declines and extinctions. Within lizards, viviparous species are hypothesized to be more vulnerable to climate warming, because they have evolved reduced body temperature and heat tolerance, but this idea remains untested. To test this hypothesis, we conducted three temperatures (20, 24, and 28 °C) × two species [Phrynocephalus przewalskii (oviparous) and P. putjatia (viviparous)] factorial design experiment that simulated warming on oviparous versus viviparous lizards. Our manipulation of ambient temperature affected activity and thermal preference in both species, birth date in P. putjatia, and egg mass in P. przewalskii; other examined traits (fecundity, reproductive output, and size, morphology, and sprint speed of offspring) were not affected. Neither in P. putjatia nor in P. przewalskii behavioral responses to rising temperatures differ between the sexes. The viviparous species thermoregulated more actively than did the oviparous species, but the two species did not differ in thermal preference. Warming reduced the activity time allotted for thermoregulation in both species, but the effect was more dramatic in the viviparous species. Our data support one of the central predictions that lead to the hypothesis that viviparous lizards are more vulnerable to climate warming; however, this is not because viviparous lizards have evolved reduced body temperature and heat tolerance, but, because warming constrains activity more dramatically in viviparous species.


Climate warming Extinction risk Lizards Reproductive mode Reproductive trait 



This work was supported by grants from the Natural Science Foundation of China (Projects 31672277, 31470471, 31200282 and 31071910) and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions. We thank Ce Chen, Ya-Qing Liu, and Zhu-Yuan Zhang for help during this research.

Author contribution statement

ZW and XJ conceived and designed the experiments. ZW, LM, and MS performed the experiments. ZW, LM, and XJ analyzed the data. ZW and XJ wrote the manuscript; LM and MS provided editorial advice.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

All experimental procedures complied with the current laws on animal welfare and research in China, and were approved by the Animal Research Ethics Committee of Nanjing Normal University (AREC2010-05-006).

Supplementary material

442_2017_3979_MOESM1_ESM.doc (224 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 259 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Biodiversity and Biotechnology, College of Life SciencesNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.College of Biological and Environmental SciencesNanjing Forestry UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Hangzhou Key Laboratory for Animal Adaptation and EvolutionHangzhou Normal UniversityHangzhouChina

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