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Data from: Distinct telomere differences within a reproductively bimodal common lizard population

Cite this dataset

McLennan, Darryl; Recknagel, Hans; Elmer, Kathryn R.; Monaghan, Pat (2019). Data from: Distinct telomere differences within a reproductively bimodal common lizard population [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Different strategies of reproductive mode, either oviparity (egg-laying) or viviparity (live-bearing), will be associated with a range of other life history differences that are expected to affect patterns of ageing and longevity. It is usually difficult to compare the effects of alternative reproductive modes because of evolutionary and ecological divergence. However, the very rare exemplars of reproductive bimodality, in which different modes exist within a single species, offer an opportunity for robust and controlled comparisons. 2. One trait of interest that could be associated with life history, ageing and longevity is the length of the telomeres, which form protective caps at the chromosome ends and are generally considered a good indicator of cellular health. The shortening of these telomeres has been linked to stressful conditions; therefore, it is possible that differing reproductive costs will influence patterns of telomere loss. This is important because a number of studies have linked a shorter telomere length to reduced survival, and even population extinction. 3. Here we have studied maternal and offspring telomere dynamics in the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara). Our study has focused on a population where oviparous and viviparous individuals co-occur in the same habitat and occasionally interbreed to form admixed individuals. 4. While viviparity confers many advantages for offspring, it might also incur substantial costs for the mother, e.g. require more energy. Therefore, we predicted that viviparous mothers would have relatively shorter telomeres than oviparous mothers, with admixed mothers having intermediate telomere lengths. There is thought to be a heritable component to telomere length; therefore, we also hypothesised that offspring would follow the same pattern as the mothers. 5. Contrary to our predictions, the viviparous mothers and offspring had the longest telomeres, the oviparous mothers and offspring had the shortest telomeres. The differing telomere lengths may have evolved as an effect of the life history divergence between the reproductive modes, e.g. due to the increased growth rate that viviparous individuals may undergo to reach a similar size at reproduction.

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