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Data from: A global test of the cold-climate hypothesis for the evolution of viviparity of squamate reptiles

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Ma, Liang; Buckley, Lauren B.; Huey, Raymond B.; Du, Wei-guo (2019). Data from: A global test of the cold-climate hypothesis for the evolution of viviparity of squamate reptiles [Dataset]. Dryad.


Aim The evolution of viviparity in squamate reptiles has attracted considerable scientific attention since the beginning of last century. The cold climate hypothesis posits that cold regions favor viviparity (and therefore the incidence of viviparous squamates is increased in these regions) because viviparous females can use thermoregulatory behavior to shorten embryonic developmental time and to reduce exposure of embryos to stressful temperatures. However, a rigorous global-scale test of the impact of viviparity on the developmental time and viability of embryos is still absent. Recently developed biophysical models and climate databases enable us to conduct a mechanistic test of this hypothesis. Location Global Time period Summer Major taxa studied Squamata Methods We integrated global climate data, a biophysical model, and developmental functions to quantify the effects of temperature on embryo developmental time, developmental viability, and energy consumption of oviparous versus viviparous embryos. To examine the accuracy of our predictions, we calculated the percentage of squamate reptiles that were viviparous in each region and assessed developmental temperature of gravid females, latitude and elevation as predictors for the percentage of squamate reptiles. Results Compared with oviparous embryos, viviparous embryos develop faster in cold regions, and experience similar embryonic developmental viability. Across most latitudes and elevations, the total energetic cost of development is lower for viviparous embryos than for oviparous embryos. Cold regions contain a higher proportion of viviparous species than do hot regions. By comparing the distribution pattern of viviparity and temperature effects on embryonic development, we found that shortened development time provided the strongest benefit of viviparity. Main conclusions Our global and biophysical model based comparison generally supports the cold climate hypothesis. Moreover, viviparity in cold climates appears beneficial primarily by shortening developmental time.

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