Heritability and developmental plasticity of growth in an oviparous lizard

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41437-023-00660-3. This is version 3 of this Preprint.

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Fonti Kar, Shinichi Nakagawa, Daniel W.A. Noble


Selective processes act on phenotypic variation although the evolutionary potential of a trait relies on the underlying heritable variation. Developmental plasticity is an important source of phenotypic variation, but it can also promote changes in genetic variation, yet we have a limited understanding on how they are both impacted. Here, we quantified the influence of developmental temperature on the growth in delicate skinks (Lampropholis delicata) and partitioned the total variance using an animal model fitted with a genomic relatedness matrix. We measured mass for 262 individuals (nhot = 125, ncold = 136) over 16 months (nobservations = 3,002) and estimated heritability and maternal effects over time. Our results show that lizards reared in cold developmental temperatures had consistently higher mass across development compared to lizards that were reared in hot developmental temperatures. However, developmental temperature did not impact the rate of growth. On average, additive genetic variance, maternal effects and heritability were higher in hot developmental temperature treatment, however these differences were not statistically significant. Heritability increased with age, whereas maternal effects decreased upon hatching but increased again at a later age which could be driven by social competition or intrinsic changes in the expression of variation as individual’s growth. Our work suggests that evolutionary potential of growth is complex, age-dependent and not overtly affected by extremes in natural nest temperatures.




Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Body mass, growth rate, additive genetic variance, incubation temperature, maternal effects, temperature-size rule, cryptic genetic variation


Published: 2022-11-09 19:38

Last Updated: 2023-11-15 21:03

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data and code are available at https://bit.ly/2Uy72id