Influence of reproductive mode on metabolic costs of reproduction: insight from the bimodal lizard Zootoca vivipara.

Research paper by Thomas T Foucart, Olivier O Lourdais, Dale F DF DeNardo, Benoit B Heulin

Indexed on: 04 Oct '14Published on: 04 Oct '14Published in: The Journal of experimental biology


Examination of the selective forces behind the transition from oviparity to viviparity in vertebrates must include an understanding of the relative energy costs of the two reproductive modes. However, interspecific comparisons of reproductive mode are confounded by numerous other inherent differences among the species. Therefore, we compared oxygen consumption, as a reflection of energy costs, during reproduction in oviparous and viviparous females of the reproductively bimodal lizard Zootoca vivipara (Jaquin 1787). Female oxygen consumption progressively increased over the course of reproduction, peaking just prior to parition when it was 46% (oviparous form) and 82% (viviparous form) higher than it was at the pre-reproductive stage. Total increase in oxygen consumption (TIOC) during the pre-ovulation period was not different between the reproductive modes. Conversely, post-ovulation TIOC was more than three times higher in viviparous females, reflecting a dramatic increase in embryonic metabolism as well as maternal metabolic costs of pregnancy (MCP). MCP accounted for 22% of total metabolism in viviparous females, whereas it was negligible in oviparous females. Our results demonstrate that egg retention through the first third of development, as is typical of most oviparous squamates, entails minimal maternal energy demand, while extending retention imposes much greater metabolic constraints. Selection for transition from oviparity to viviparity must therefore provide benefits that outweigh not only the added burden associated with prolonged embryonic retention, but also the substantial additional energy costs that are incurred.