Embryos of Non-Native Anoles Are Robust to Urban Thermal Environments


The transformation of natural habitats into urban landscapes dramatically alters thermal environments, which in turn, can impact local biota. Ectothermic organisms that are oviparous are particularly sensitive to these altered environments because their embryos cannot behaviorally thermoregulate and the surrounding environment determines the temperature experienced during development. We studied the effects of urban and forested thermal environments on embryo development and hatchling phenotypes in two non-native lizards (Anolis sagrei and A. cristatellus) in metropolitan Miami, Florida. To determine if embryos from urban and forested sites are adapted to their respective thermal environments, we incubated eggs from each site using temperatures that simulate likely nest conditions in both urban and forested environments. For both species, urban thermal environments accelerated embryonic development, but had no impact on egg survival or any of the phenotypic traits that were measured (e.g., body size, running performance, and locomotor behavior). Our results provide no evidence that embryos from urban and forested sites are adapted to their respective thermal environments. Instead, the lack of any major effects suggest that embryos of both species are physiologically robust with respect to novel environments, which could have facilitated their success in establishing in non-native ranges and in human-modified landscapes.

Journal of Thermal Biology