University of Tasmania

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Reactive females: individual, annual and geographic variation in temperature effects on phenology

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 15:04 authored by Cunningham, GD, Ljungstrom, G, Geoffrey WhileGeoffrey While, Olsson, M, Erik WapstraErik Wapstra
If we are to make accurate predictions about how the distributions of species will be affected by changing climates, it is critical that we understand how the timing of key lifetime events are influenced by the environment, especially by temperature. Many models implicitly assume, however, that species’ response to changing temperatures will be consistent across their range. Populations often differ, however, in both their mean responses to changed environments as a result of adaptation to local conditions, and in the degree of canalisation of these responses (i.e., the variance in reactive norms amongst individuals). A population’s capacity to plastically respond to novel or changed environments depends on its evolutionary history, and itself constitutes a trait subject to selection. If biologists are to make meaningful predictions about how the distribution of species will be affected by climate change, it is critical that we assess different populations’ potential to adapt to change through both phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary adaptation. Here we present evidence for differences in responses of key phenological traits to environmental temperature between locally adapted populations of the spotted snow skink, Niveoscincus ocellatus, a viviparous lizard endemic to Tasmania. We present evidence that variation in birth dates has fitness consequences that are themselves population specific. We further demonstrate that, within populations, responses are female-­‐specific (i.e., there are individual female reaction norms) which is key to understanding potential for future evolutionary responses. Finally, we discuss the implications for these effects on distribution across the landscape now and into the future.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Species on the Move Conference Program


School of Natural Sciences

Event title

Species on the Move

Event Venue

Hobart, Tasmania

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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