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n African Zoology - Ecology of Wahlberg's velvet gecko, , in southern Africa

Volume 42, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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Abstract

We examined 170 museum specimens of the southern African gekkonid lizard , to quantify sexual dimorphism, male and female reproductive cycles and diet. The largest male and female we recorded were 116 and 119 mm snout-vent length (SVL) respectively. We compared SVL, tail length, head length, head width and eye diameter and found no evidence of sexual dimorphism in any of these characters. The smallest female with thickened muscular oviducts and follicles, indicating sexual maturity, was 59 mm SVL, but the smallest female we found with fully developed eggs was 85mm SVL. Virtually all females larger than 59 mm appeared to be in some stage of reproduction, indicating that females reproduce every year once they reach sexual maturity. Egg size ranged from 17-19mm long. Egg size was not correlated with maternal SVL. We found adult females with ready-to-lay eggs in all of the warmer months of the year (November-June), and they appear to cease reproduction only during the coldest months of winter (July-October). The smallest sexually mature male was 72 mm SVL. Virtually all males larger than this size displayed at least semi-turgid testes and most adult male testes were at least semi-turgid for much of the year. The only significant decrease in testicular activity was in mid-winter (June-August), thus, spermatogenesis is closely tied to female follicular development and ovulation. Velvet geckos are largely insectivorous (92%) and feed on a broad spectrum of prey. Their diet was dominated both numerically (34%) and volumetrically (22%) by beetles. Lepidoptera were the next most important prey category, suggesting that they exploit both terrestrial and flying invertebrates. They are unusual among lizards because they feed on millipedes. Males and females had very similar diets which may be explained by their lack of sexual dimorphism, although females tended to eat a greater volume of prey. Interestingly, less than half (37%) of the lizards examined contained prey items, suggesting that most individuals were not in positive energy balance. We also found evidence of prey size selection as a function of gape size such that larger geckos took advantage of larger prey items.

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/content/afzoo/42/1/EJC18035
2007-04-01
2019-09-17

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