The importance of energetic versus pelvic constraints on reproductive allocation by the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)

Christopher E. Oufiero, Amanda J. Smith, Michael J. Angilletta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In ectothermic species, females often produce larger eggs in colder environments. Models based on energetic constraints suggest that this pattern is an adaptation to compensate for the slower growth of offspring in the cold. Yet, females in cold environments also tend to be larger than females in warm environments. Consequently, thermal clines in egg size could be caused by pelvic constraints, which stem from the inability of large eggs to pass through a small pelvic aperture. Models based on energetic constraints and models based on pelvic constraints predict similar relationships between maternal size and egg size. However, pelvic constraints should produce these relationships both within and among populations, whereas energetic constraints would not necessarily do so. If pelvic constraints are important, we might also expect small females to compensate by producing eggs that are relatively rich in lipids (i.e. high energy density). The present study aimed to assess whether energetic or pelvic constraints generate geographical variation in egg size of the lizard Sceloporus undulatus. Pelvic width is very highly correlated with body length in S. undulatus, making maternal size a suitable measure of pelvic constraint. Although maternal size and egg mass (dry and wet) covaried among populations, these variables were generally not related within populations. Energetic density of eggs tended to increase with decreasing egg mass (dry and wet), but this relationship was strongest in populations where no relationship between maternal size and egg mass was observed. Our results do not support the pelvic constraint model and thus indicate energetic constraints play a greater role in generating geographical variation in egg size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-521
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Ectotherms
  • Egg size
  • Life history
  • Lizards
  • Maternal size
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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