Clutch Size Variability in an Ostensibly Fix-Clutched Lizard: Effects of Insularity on a Mediterranean Gecko

Alex Slavenko, Yuval Itescu, Johannes Foufopoulos, Panayiotis Pafilis, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The island syndrome describes the evolution of slow life history traits in insular environments. Animals are thought to evolve smaller clutches of larger offspring on islands in response to release from predation pressure and interspecific competition, and the resulting increases in population density and intraspecific competition. These forces become more pronounced with diminishing island size, and life histories are thus expected to become slowest on small, isolated islands. We measured clutch sizes in 12 insular populations of Mediodactylus kotschyi, a small gecko from the Cyclades Archipelago, a set of land-bridge islands in the Aegean Sea (Greece). We analyse variation in clutch size in relation to island area, island age, maternal body size, the presence of putative competitors and nesting seabirds (which increase resource abundance in the form of marine subsidies), and richness of predators. Clutch size of M. kotschyi decreases with increasing island area, in departure from classic island syndrome predictions, suggesting the evolution of faster life histories on smaller islands. There are no relationships between clutch size and island age, maternal size, the presence of competitors or predator richness. Instead, larger clutches on small islands could simply reflect the beneficial effect of marine subsidies derived from resident seabird colonies. Indeed, populations of M. kotschyi on islands with nesting seabirds have clutch sizes 30.9 % larger (1.82 vs. 1.39 eggs) than populations on islands without nesting seabirds. Thus, our data suggest that bottom-up effects of marine subsidies may supersede the expression of a simple island syndrome in the Aegean M. kotschyi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalEvolutionary Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 12 Apr 2015


  • Cyclades
  • Island biogeography
  • Island syndrome
  • Kotschyi’s gecko
  • Life history
  • Mediodactylus kotschyi
  • Reproduction

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Clutch Size Variability in an Ostensibly Fix-Clutched Lizard: Effects of Insularity on a Mediterranean Gecko'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this