Adaptive responses to cool climate promotes persistence of a non-native lizard.
While GM., Williamson J., Prescott G., Horváthová T., Fresnillo B., Beeton NJ., Halliwell B., Michaelides S., Uller T.
Successful establishment and range expansion of non-native species often require rapid accommodation of novel environments. Here, we use common-garden experiments to demonstrate parallel adaptive evolutionary response to a cool climate in populations of wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) introduced from southern Europe into England. Low soil temperatures in the introduced range delay hatching, which generates directional selection for a shorter incubation period. Non-native lizards from two separate lineages have responded to this selection by retaining their embryos for longer before oviposition--hence reducing the time needed to complete embryogenesis in the nest--and by an increased developmental rate at low temperatures. This divergence mirrors local adaptation across latitudes and altitudes within widely distributed species and suggests that evolutionary responses to climate can be very rapid. When extrapolated to soil temperatures encountered in nests within the introduced range, embryo retention and faster developmental rate result in one to several weeks earlier emergence compared with the ancestral state. We show that this difference translates into substantial survival benefits for offspring. This should promote short- and long-term persistence of non-native populations, and ultimately enable expansion into areas that would be unattainable with incubation duration representative of the native range.