Life-history and spatial determinants of somatic growth dynamics in Komodo dragon populations.

Article English OPEN
Rebecca J Laver ; Deni Purwandana ; Achmad Ariefiandy ; Jeri Imansyah ; David Forsyth ; Claudio Ciofi ; Tim S Jessop
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Journal: PLoS ONE, volume 7, issue 9 (issn: 1932-6203, eissn: 1932-6203)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045398, pmc: PMC3446886
  • Subject: Research Article | Biology | Komodo dragon; population ecology | Medicine | Ecophysiology | Population Dynamics | Herpetology | Autecology | Population Modeling | Q | Ecology | R | Population Biology | Science | Spatial and Landscape Ecology | Animal Physiology | Population Ecology | Zoology | Terrestrial Ecology

Somatic growth patterns represent a major component of organismal fitness and may vary among sexes and populations due to genetic and environmental processes leading to profound differences in life-history and demography. This study considered the ontogenic, sex-specific and spatial dynamics of somatic growth patterns in ten populations of the world’s largest lizard the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). The growth of 400 individual Komodo dragons was measured in a capture-mark-recapture study at ten sites on four islands in eastern Indonesia, from 2002 to 2010. Generalized Additive Mixed Models (GAMMs) and information-theoretic methods were used to examine how growth rates varied with size, age and sex, and across and within islands in relation to site-specific prey availability, lizard population density and inbreeding coefficients. Growth trajectories differed significantly with size and between sexes, indicating different energy allocation tactics and overall costs associated with reproduction. This leads to disparities in maximum body sizes and longevity. Spatial variation in growth was strongly supported by a curvilinear density-dependent growth model with highest growth rates occurring at intermediate population densities. Sex-specific trade-offs in growth underpin key differences in Komodo dragon life-history including evidence for high costs of reproduction in females. Further, inverse density-dependent growth may have profound effects on individual and population level processes that influence the demography of this species.
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