Convergent evolution of embryonic growth and development in the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Christopher E. Oufiero, Michael J. Angilletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Theory predicts that cold environments will select for strategies that enhance the growth of ectotherms, such as early emergence from nests and more efficient use of resources. We used a common garden experiment to detect parallel clines in rates of embryonic growth and development by eastern fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus). Using realistic thermal conditions, we measured growth efficiencies and incubation periods of lizards from five populations representing two distinct clades. In both clades, embryos from cold environments (Indiana, New Jersey, and Virginia) grew more efficiently and hatched earlier than embryos from warm environments (Florida and South Carolina). Because eggs from cold environments were larger than eggs from warm environments, we experimentally miniaturized eggs from one population (Virginia) to determine whether rapid growth and development were caused by a greater maternal investment. Embryos in miniaturized eggs grew as efficiently and incubated for the same duration as embryos in unmanipulated eggs. Taken together, our results suggest countergradient variation has evolved at least twice in S. undulatus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1075
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Convergent evolution
  • Countergradient variation
  • Development
  • Growth efficiency
  • Sceloporus undulatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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