Climate change, multiple paternity and offspring survival in lizards
Recent work suggests that rising spring temperatures over recent decades have eliminated many lizard populations, and threaten many more worldwide. However, because ambient temperatures constrain activity times in ectotherms, warming conditions (as expected under global climate change scenarios) can increase the duration of seasonal opportunities for courtship and mating. Thus, in species where polyandry results in enhanced offspring viability, a warming climate may not necessarily impair long-term survival. Our nine-year study of a sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) population near the northern range limit in Sweden revealed consistently higher incidence of multiple paternity of clutches in warmer years, and higher viability of offspring from multiply-sired clutches (presumably reflecting the advantages of more intense sperm competition). Any trend to warmer spring temperatures likely will benefit offspring viability in this system, by increasing a female's opportunities to mate with additional males.