Ecology and Evolution
John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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- Life‐history strategies are known to shift with latitude in many species. While life‐history variation related to body size, reproductive investment, and behavior has been studied for years, another crucial life‐history component is the immune system, which can influence an animal's survival.
- We measured selected life‐history traits in side‐blotched lizards in southern Utah and Oregon in the field for two consecutive years and conducted a common‐garden experiment in the laboratory to determine how organisms from different latitudes optimize either immunity or reproduction. We observed lizards from southern populations, which are known to be shorter‐lived, had lower immune function during reproduction when compared to northern lizards in 2012, but the relationship reversed in the following year.
- Our laboratory study revealed that southern lizards healed cutaneous wounds faster and had higher microbiocidal ability when compared to their northern counterparts, but lost mass doing so. The northern lizards ate more than the southern ones and maintained their body mass. It is possible that northern lizards are better adapted to taking advantage of available food resources. Alternatively, southern lizards may have exhibited sickness behavior in response to an immune challenge or reacted more strongly to the stress of captivity.
- We found differences in life‐history strategies used by animals from different latitudes, and that these changes can shift within a population depending on the weather conditions of the year. Furthermore, when taken from the field and placed into a common‐garden environment, some of these differences in strategy appear to be intrinsic to the animals (i.e., whether they came from southern or northern populations).
Smith, GD, Zani, PA, French, SS. Life‐history differences across latitude in common side‐blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana). Ecol Evol. 2019; 9: 5743– 5751. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5157