Promiscuity in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) and adder snakes (Vipera berus): Causes and consequences

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We review postcopulatory phenomena in the Swedish sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) and adder (Vipera berus), and in particular, links between female promiscuity, determinants of paternity, and offspring viability. In both species, females mate multiply and exhibit a positive relationship between the number of partners and offspring viability. We conclude that this relationship is most likely the result of variable genetic compatibility between mates arising from postcopulatory phenomena, predominantly assortative fertilization with respect to parental genotypes, However, males who were more successful at mate acquisition were also more successful in situations of sperm competition, suggesting a possible link between male (diploid and haploid) genetic quality per se and probability of fertilization, Neither the number of partners nor the number of matings influenced the risk of infertility in sand lizards, suggesting that selection for reduced risk of infertility is not a sufficient explanation for maintaining female promiscuity in this population. Finally, we conclude that the relatively low genetic variability exhibited by our study populations may have facilitated detection of genetic benefits compared to more outbred ones. However, recent work derived from outbred populations in other tars suggest a greater generality of the principles we discuss than previously may have been appreciated.


  • M Olsson
  • Thomas Madsen
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Ekologi
Sidor (från-till)190-197
TidskriftJournal of Heredity
StatusPublished - 2001
Peer review utfördJa