Conserved ecophysiology despite disparate microclimatic conditions in a gecko

Rachel Schwarz, Liat Dror, Gavin Stark, Eran Gefen, Noga Kronfeld-Schor, David G. Chapple, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Microscale differences in the habitats organisms occupy can influence selection regimes and promote intraspecific variation of traits. Temperature-dependent traits can be locally adapted to climatic conditions or be highly conserved and insensitive to directional selection under all but the most extreme regimes, and thus be similar across populations. The opposing slopes of Nahal Oren canyon in the Carmel Mountains, Israel, are strikingly different: the south-facing slope receives intensive solar radiation, is hot and supports mostly annual vegetation, whereas the north-facing slope is ~10°C cooler, more humid, and supports Mediterranean woodland. We examined whether these differences manifest in the thermal physiology of a common gecko species Ptyodactylus guttatus in controlled laboratory conditions. We predicted that geckos from the hotter south-facing slope would prefer higher temperatures, have faster gut passage times, lower metabolic and evaporative water loss rates, and start diel activity earlier compared with north-facing slope conspecifics. Contrary to these predictions, there were no differences between any of the ecophysiological traits in geckos from the opposing slopes. Nevertheless, our data showed that individuals from the north-facing slope were generally more active in earlier hours of the afternoon compared with south-facing individuals. We suggest that P. guttatus individuals disperse between the slopes and either gene-flow or behavioral plasticity deter local adaptation, resulting in similar physiological traits. Perhaps a stronger contrast in climatic conditions and a stronger barrier are needed to result in interpopulation divergence in temperature-dependent traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-328
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology
Volume337
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Evolution Canyon
  • Nahal Oren
  • evaporative water loss
  • gut passage time
  • metabolic rate
  • temperature preferences

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