USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Alison Gainsbury

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Climate change is impacting species globally, with many populations declining at an accelerated rate toward extinction. Ectothermic species are particularly vulnerable given their reproductive success is linked to environmental temperatures. Studies of the effect of temperature on reproductive success in oviparous squamates have focused mostly on nest temperatures, after eggs are deposited. However, in some species gravid females are known to thermoregulate differently than other adults to increase reproductive success. It is essential to understand what influences the thermal biology of breeding adults in a population to implement targeted conservation strategies. The Florida scrub lizard Sceloporus woodi is an endemic species listed as near‐threatened due to decreasing populations. This study is the first to document the thermal biology of these breeding adults in relation to size, sex, and reproductive status. A t test was used to determine whether sexual dimorphism was present in the sampled S. woodi. Full linear mixed‐effects models were used to test the influence of size, sex, and reproductive status on the thermal biology of S. woodi. Despite female‐biased sexual size dimorphism, there were no sex‐based differences in body temperature in the studied population. Interestingly, reproductive status influenced thermal biology of females during the breeding season, with gravid females maintaining lower body temperatures compared to nongravid females. However, gravid females did not regulate their body temperatures more precisely compared to nongravid females. These results indicate the population viability of this endemic species is potentially linked to the different thermoregulatory requirements of gravid females as compared to other adults. Lower body temperatures of gravid females, exacerbated by their lack of thermal precision, have disconcerting conservation implications in the face of climate warming. Future studies focusing on gravid females are warranted to attain effective biodiversity conservation strategies mitigating the impacts of climate warming.