Australian lizards are outstanding models for reproductive biology research
journal contributionposted on 2021-11-24, 23:43 authored by James Van DykeJames Van Dyke, MB Thompson, CP Burridge, MA Castelli, S Clulow, DSB DIssanayake, CM Dong, JS Doody, DL Edwards, T Ezaz, CR Friesen, MG Gardner, A Georges, M Higgie, PL Hill, CE Holleley, D Hoops, CJ Hoskin, DL Merry, JL Riley, E Wapstra, GM While, SL Whiteley, MJ Whiting, SM Zozaya, CM Whittington
Australian lizards are a diverse group distributed across the continent and inhabiting a wide range of environments. Together, they exhibit a remarkable diversity of reproductive morphologies, physiologies, and behaviours that is broadly representative of vertebrates in general. Many reproductive traits exhibited by Australian lizards have evolved independently in multiple lizard lineages, including sociality, complex signalling and mating systems, viviparity, and temperature-dependent sex determination. Australian lizards are thus outstanding model organisms for testing hypotheses about how reproductive traits function and evolve, and they provide an important basis of comparison with other animals that exhibit similar traits. We review how research on Australian lizard reproduction has contributed to answering broader evolutionary and ecological questions that apply to animals in general. We focus on reproductive traits, processes, and strategies that are important areas of current research, including behaviours and signalling involved in courtship; mechanisms involved in mating, egg production, and sperm competition; nesting and gestation; sex determination; and finally, birth in viviparous species. We use our review to identify important questions that emerge from an understanding of this body of research when considered holistically. Finally, we identify additional research questions within each topic that Australian lizards are well suited for reproductive biologists to address.