Life-history variation in the sagebrush lizard: Phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation?

Michael W. Sears, Michael J. Angilletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We performed a laboratory common-environment study to determine the genetic and environmental sources of variation in growth rates of the sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus). Hatchling lizards were reared from gravid females collected from three study populations along an elevational gradient in southern Utah, USA. Hatchlings were fed ad libidum and were maintained on a 14:10 light:dark cycle, with temperatures at 33°C and 21°C during photophase and scotophase, respectively. Each hatchling was randomly assigned to either a water-supplementation treatment or a control group receiving no supplemental water. Once every five days, the water-supplemented lizards were administered orally a quantity of water equal to 5% of their body mass. Growth was quantified as the total change in body size (length and mass) for 30 d after hatching. Resting metabolic rates of a subset of lizards were measured at hatching and at the end of the study. After adjusting growth for food intake, change in length did not differ between water-supplemented and control lizards, and did not differ among the three populations. Metabolic rates were similar across the study for all treatment groups. Water-supplemented lizards did gain wet mass more rapidly than control lizards; however, the difference in growth between groups was attributed to hydration state, because growth in dry mass did not differ between groups. The effects of water supplementation on growth that were observed by other investigators were likely manifested through changes in thermoregulatory behavior or increased activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1624-1634
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Altitudinal effect on life history
  • Common-environment study
  • Countergradient variation
  • Geographic variation
  • Growth rates
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Life history
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Sagebrush lizard
  • Sceloporus graciosus
  • Water availability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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