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Egg incubation effects generate positive correlations between size, speed and learning ability in young lizards
University of Sydney, Australia.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Theoretical Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. University of Sydney, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7856-2925
University of Sydney, Australia.
2014 (English)In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 17, no 2, 337-347 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous studies have suggested that body size and locomotor performance are targets of Darwinian selection in reptiles. However, much of the variation in these traits may derive from phenotypically plastic responses to incubation temperature, rather than from underlying genetic variation. Intriguingly, incubation temperature may also influence cognitive traits such as learning ability. Therefore, we might expect correlations between a reptiles size, locomotor speed and learning ability either due to selection on all of these traits or due to environmental effects during egg incubation. In the present study, we incubated lizard eggs (Scincidae: Bassiana duperreyi) under hot and cold thermal regimes and then assessed differences in hatchling body size, running speed and learning ability. We measured learning ability using a Y-maze and a food reward. We found high correlations between size, speed and learning ability, using two different metrics to quantify learning (time to solution, and directness of route), and showed that environmental effects (incubation temperature) cause these correlations. If widespread, such correlations challenge any simple interpretation of fitness advantages due to body size or speed within a population; for example, survivors may be larger and faster than nonsurvivors because of differences in learning ability, not because of their size or speed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Berlin/Heidelberg, 2014. Vol. 17, no 2, 337-347 p.
Keyword [en]
Body size; Cognition; Correlations; Locomotor performance
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110528DOI: 10.1007/s10071-013-0665-4ISI: 000330955800017PubMedID: 23922118ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84893792219OAI: diva2:748068

Funding Agencies|ARC, Australian Research Council; NSERC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; University of Sydney

Available from: 2014-09-18 Created: 2014-09-12 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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