Incubation temperature and clutch effects on initial body sizes and growth rates in green iguana hatchlings (Iguana iguana)

in Animal Biology
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


Large initial body size and rapid early growth rate are important in many species, both because predation rates decline as individuals grow and because females that attain a larger adult body size are more fecund. To identify possible factors contributing to size and growth rate variation in hatchling green iguanas, we artificially incubated six clutches at three constant temperatures to test for effects of incubation temperature and/or clutch effects on initial size and growth rate. Higher incubation temperatures resulted in significantly shorter incubation periods but did not influence initial body size. There were significant differences among clutches in egg size, and also in initial hatchling body size, even after correcting for differences in egg size among clutches. A subset of hatchlings from each nest was reared in semi-natural conditions for four months, with individuals from the high incubation temperature condition exhibiting the slowest longer-term growth rates. No clutch effects were detected in the growth rate analyses. The observed variation in early growth rate of juvenile iguanas seems to be selectively important and this variation may be due in part to the conditions the eggs experience during incubation, but clutch effects in this study were limited to egg size and initial hatchling body size variation, but were not found for subsequent growth rates.

Incubation temperature and clutch effects on initial body sizes and growth rates in green iguana hatchlings (Iguana iguana)

in Animal Biology



AlbertsA.C.PerryA.LemmJ.PhillipsJ. (1997) Effects of incubation temperature on growth and thermoregulatory behavior of hatchling rock iguanas (Cyclura nubila). Copeia1997766-776.

AlvaradoJ.IbarraL.SuazoI. (1995) Reproductive characteristics of a green iguana (Iguana iguana) population of the west coast of Mexico. Southwest. Nat.40234-237.

AndrewsR.M.MathiesT.WarnerD.A. (2000) Effect of incubation temperature on morphology, growth and survival of juvenile Sceloporus undulatus. Herpetol. Monogr.14420-431.

BakhuisW.L. (1982) Size and sexual differentiation in the lizard Iguana iguana on a semi-arid island. J. Herpetol.16322-325.

BernardoJ. (1996) The particular maternal effect of propagule size, especially egg size: patterns, models, quality of evidence, and interpretations. Am. Zool.36216-236.

BockB.C.PáezV.P.RandA.S. (1998) Temperaturas del suelo atípicas en áreas comunales de anidación de la iguana verde (Iguana iguana) en Colombia y Panamá. Crónica Forestal y del Medio Ambiente1355-70.

BockB.C.PáezV.P.RandA.S.BurghardtG.M. (2016) Life table and stochastic matrix projection analysis for a population of green iguanas (Iguana iguana): implications for conservation and control. Herpetol. Conserv. Biol.11(Monograph 6) 47-60.

BrañaF.JiA. (2000) Influence of incubation temperature on morphology, locomotor performance, and early growth of hatchling wall lizards (Podarcis muralis). J. Exp. Zool.286422-433.

BronikowskiA.M. (2000) Experimental evidence for the adaptive evolution of growth rate in the garter snake Thamnophis elegans. Evolution541760-1767.

BurghardtG.M.RandA.S. (1985) Group size and growth rate in hatchling green iguanas (Iguana iguana). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.18101-104.

BustardH.R. (1969) Tail abnormalities in reptiles resulting from high temperature incubation. Br. J. Herpetol.4121-123.

CarpenterC.C.YoshidaJ.K. (1967) One-egg twins in Agama agama. Herpetologica2357-59.

DuW.G.JiX.ZhangY.P.LinZ.H.XuX.F. (2010) Geographic variation in offspring size of a widespread lizard (Takydromus septentrionalis): importance of maternal investment. Biol. J. Linn. Soc.10159-67.

GreeneH.W.BurghardtG.M.DuganB.A.RandA.S. (1978) Predation and the defensive behavior of green iguanas (Reptilia, Lacertilia, Iguanidae). J. Herpetol.12169-176.

HareK.M.LongsonC.G.PledgerS.DaughertyC.H. (2004) Size, growth, and survival are reduced at cool incubation temperatures in the temperate lizard Oligosoma suteri (Lacertilia: Scincidae). Copeia2004383-390.

HarrisD.M. (1982) The phenology, growth, and survival of the green iguana, Iguana iguana, in northern Colombia. In: BurghardtG.M.RandA.S. (Eds) Iguanas of the World: Their Behavior Ecology and Conservation pp.  150-161. Noyes PublicationsPark Ridge, New Jersey, USA.

HendersonR.W. (1974) Aspects of the ecology of the juvenile common iguana (Iguana iguana). Herpetologica30327-332.

IversonJ.B. (1982) Adaptations to herbivory in iguanine lizards. In: BurghardtG.M.RandA.S. (Eds) Iguanas of the World: Their Behavior Ecology and Conservation pp.  60-76. Noyes PublicationsPark Ridge, New Jersey, USA.

JiX.QiuQ.DiongC. (2002) Influence of incubation temperature on hatching success, energy expenditure for embryonic development, and size and morphology of hatchlings in the oriental garden lizard, Calotes versicolor. J. Exp. Zool.292649-659.

KnappC.R.AbarcaJ.G. (2009) Effects of radio transmitter burdening on locomotor ability and survival of iguana hatchlings. Herpetologica65363-372.

KöhlerG. (1998) Der Grüne Leguan. Auflage Herpeton Offenbach S1467-96.

LichtP.MoberlyW.R. (1965) Thermal requirements for embryonic development in the tropical lizard Iguana iguana. Copeia1965515-517.

LuH.L.LinZ.H.LiH.JiV. (2014) Geographic variation in hatchling size in an oviparous skink: effects of maternal investment and incubation thermal environment. Biol. J. Linn. Soc.113283-296.

McBeeR.H.McBeeV.H. (1982) The hindgut fermentation in the green iguana, Iguana iguana. In: BurghardtG.M.RandA.S. (Eds) Iguanas of the World: Their Behavior Ecology and Conservation pp.  77-83. Noyes PublicationsPark Ridge, New Jersey, USA.

MüllerH.V. (1968) Untersuchungen über Wachstum und Altersverteilung einer Population des Grünen Leguans Iguana iguana iguana L. (Reptilia: Iguanidae). Mitteilungen aus dem Instituto Colombo-Alemán de Investigaciones Científicas Punta de Betín257-65.

MüllerH.V. (1972) Ökologische und Ethologische Studien an Iguana iguana L. (Reptilia: Iguanidae) in Kolumbien. Zool. Beitr.18109-131.

MuthA. (1980) Physiological ecology of desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) eggs: temperature and water relations. Ecology611335-1343.

NobleD.W.A.McFarlaneS.E.KeoghJ.S.WhitingM.J. (2014) Maternal and additive genetic effects contribute to variation in offspring traits in a lizard. Beha. Ecol.25633-640.

PhillipsJ.A.GarelA.PackardG.C.PackardM.J. (1990) Influence of moisture and temperature on eggs and embryos of green iguanas (Iguana iguana). Herpetologica46238-244.

PoughF.H. (1973) Lizard energetics and diet. Ecology54837-844.

QuallsC.P.AndrewsR.M. (1999) Cold climates and the evolution of viviparity in reptiles: cold incubation temperatures produce poor-quality offspring in the lizard, Sceloporus virgatus. Biol. J. Linn. Soc.67353-376.

RandA.S. (1972) The temperature of iguana nests and their relation to incubation optima and to nesting sites and season. Herpetologica28252-253.

RandA.S. (1978) Reptilian arboreal folivores. In: MontgomeryG.G. (Ed.) The Ecology of Arboreal Folivores pp.  115-122. Smithsonian Institution PressWashington, D.C., USA.

RandA.S. (1984) Clutch size in Iguana iguana in central Panama. In: SegalR.A.HuntL.E.KnightJ.I.MalaretL.ZuschlagN.L. (Eds) Vertebrate Ecology and Systematics pp.  115-122. University of Kansas Museum of Natural HistoryLawrence, Kansas, USA.

RandA.S.BockB.C. (1992) Size variation, growth, and survivorship in nesting green iguanas (Iguana iguana) in Panama. Amphib-Reptil.13147-156.

ReedyA.M.ZaragozaD.WarnerD.A. (2013) Maternally chosen nest sites positively affect multiple components of offspring fitness in a lizard. Behav. Ecol.2439-46.

ShineR.ElphickM.J.HarlowP.S. (1997) The influence of natural incubation environments on the phenotypic traits of hatchling lizards. Ecology782559-2568.

SinervoB.AdolfS.C. (1989) Thermal sensitivity of growth rate in hatchling Sceloporus lizards: environmental, behavioral, and genetic aspects. Oecologia78411-419.

StampsJ.A. (2007) Growth-mortality tradeoffs and ‘personality traits’ in animals. Ecol. Let.10255-263.

StearnsS.C.KoellaJ.C. (1986) The evolution of phenotypic plasticity in life-history traits: predictions of reaction norms for age and size at maturity. Evolution40893-913.

TangX.YueF.MaM.WangN.HeJ.ChenQ. (2001) Effects of thermal and hydric environments on incubating eggs, hatching success, and hatchling traits in the Chinese skink (Eumeces chinensis). Acta Zool. Sin.47250-259.

TroyerK. (1984a) Diet selection and digestion in Iguana iguana: the importance of age and nutrient requirements. Oecologia61201-207.

TroyerK. (1984b) Structure and function of the digestive tract of a herbivorous lizard Iguana iguana. Physiol. Zool.571-8.

TroyerK. (1984c) Behavioral acquisition of the hindgut fermentation system by hatchling Iguana iguana. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.14189-193.

Van DammeR.BauwensD.BrañaF.VerheyenR.F. (1992) Incubation temperature differentially affects hatching time, egg survival, and hatchling performance in the lizard Podarcis muralis. Herpetologica48220-228.

Van DevenderR.W. (1982) Growth and ecology of spiny-tailed and green iguanas in Costa Rica, with comments on the evolution of herbivory and large body size. In: BurghardtG.M.RandA.S. (Eds) Iguanas of the World: Their Behavior Ecology and Conservation pp.  162-183. Noyes PublicationsPark Ridge, New Jersey, USA.

WarnerD.A.LovernM.B.ShineR. (2007) Maternal nutrition affects reproductive output and sex allocation in a lizard with environmental sex determination. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B274883-890.

WarnerD.A.RajkumarS.RadderS.ShineR. (2009) Corticosterone exposure during embryonic development affects offspring growth and sex ratios in opposing directions in two lizard species with environmental sex determination. Physiol. Biochem. Zool.82363-371.

WernerD.I. (1991) The rational use of green iguanas. In: RobinsonJ.G.RedfordK.H. (Eds) Neotropical Wildlife Use and Conservation pp.  181-201. University of Chicago PressChicago, Illinois, USA.

ZugG.R.RandA.S. (1987) Estimation of age in nesting female Iguana iguana: testing skeletochronology in a tropical lizard. Amphib. Reptil.8237-250.


  • View in gallery

    Effect of incubation temperature on mean incubation period for six artificially incubated Iguana iguana nests (N1-N6). Differences in mean incubation period of different nests within a temperature condition were due in part to the nests having been collected and placed into the incubators at different ages.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 25 25 17
Full Text Views 71 71 61
PDF Downloads 4 4 3
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0