Multi-scale approach to understanding climate effects on offspring size at birth and date of birth in a reptile.
Cadby CD., While GM., Hobday AJ., Uller T., Wapstra E.
Climate change is already impacting species around the world. Although most focus has been on the effect of temperature, changes in climatic variables other than temperature are also expected to drive biological change. Current models suggest that ectotherms, such as reptiles, will be strongly affected by climate change; however, data from natural populations are rare. Here, we use extensive data from 2 populations of a viviparous lizard (Niveoscincus ocellatus Gray, 1845) at the climatic extreme of the species distribution. We examine the effects of climate at a local, a regional and a global scale (thus, integrating a suite of variables at different spatial and temporal scales) on 2 key life history traits: offspring date of birth and size at birth. Overall, our results show that across 9 years of study, local temperature had strong effects on the offspring date of birth but not on the size at birth. Therefore, a rapid increase in local temperature throughout the species range (as predicted under global warming scenarios) is likely to affect phenological processes with potential concomitant effects on offspring fitness and survival.