Maternal nest choice and the effects of nest microclimate on egg survival in the brown anole

Meeting Abstract

25-4  Friday, Jan. 4 14:15 – 14:30  Maternal nest choice and the effects of nest microclimate on egg survival in the brown anole PRUETT, JE*; FARGEVIEILLE, A; WARNER, DA; Auburn University; Auburn University; Auburn University

Maternal nest choice plays an important role in the development of embryos in oviparous species. Embryos are subject to the conditions chosen by the mother, and in many species, display a high degree of plasticity in response to developmental environment. The sensitivity of these embryos to their surroundings places a great amount importance on the conditions females select. Nesting behavior varies widely across species with reproductive strategies. The brown anole (Anolis sagrei), for example, exhibits fixed clutch size, laying one egg every 7-10 days across an extended reproductive season that can last from April to October. Anoles present an interesting system for studying the effects of nest site choice for many reasons. First, anoles have well-documented plastic responses to developmental conditions such as incubation temperature and moisture. Second, the extended nesting season means females are nesting in very different climatic conditions across the season. To quantify maternal nesting behavior and determine effects of developmental conditions on survival in the brown anole, we searched for maternal nest sites using both targeted and randomized searching methods, and we incubated eggs in the field for most of their developmental period. Mothers chose nest sites with higher moisture and lower temperatures relative to what was available at random across the nesting season. However, nesting behavior varied among sampling periods with mothers choosing more shaded sites in the hotter part of the season. This result was paralleled in the egg placement study with survival probability of eggs decreasing with increasing nest temperature.

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