Evolution of Reproductive Strategies

European viviparous common lizards (Lacerta vivipara) show considerable geographical variation in both their coloration and life history traits. This research project aims at studying a) the genetic basis of phenotypic variation in colouration and life history traits, b) the relations between colour, life history traits and individual fitness and c) the mechanisms that maintain the variation in colour and life history traits. Moreover, we are interested in the geographical variation in colouration and life histories, and the genetic divergence between the populations of northern Fennoscandia.

In Finland, we have one male colour morph (right) and two female colour morphs (left and middle) that have different female size related allocation tactics with respect to offspring number and size.

It is suspected that natural selection favours different phenotypes in different environments. Therefore, we are conducting experiments that are designed to reveal if the advantages of different reproductive tactics are context-dependent.

The Finnish populations of common lizard are suspected to represent the eastern clade of the species. We will use molecular genetic methods to confirm the origin of the study populations. Moreover, we aim at locating the northern contact zone between the eastern and western clades and estimating the degree of genetic divergence between the lineages.


  • Tuula Oksanen & Tapio Mappes


  • Sinervo, B., Méndez-de-la-Cruz, F., Miles, D.B., Heulin, B., Bastiaans, E., Villagrán-Santa Cruz, M., Lara-Resendiz, R., Martínez-Méndez, N., Calderón-Espinosa, M.L., Meza-Lázaro, R.N., Gadsden, H., Avila, L.J., Morando, M., De la Riva, I.J., Sepulveda, P.V., Rocha, C.F.D., Ibargüengoytía, N., Puntriano, C.A., Massot, M., Lepetz, V., Oksanen, T.A., Chapple, D.G., Bauer, A.M., Branch, W.R., Clobert, J., Sites Jr., J.W. (2010). Erosion of lizard diversity by climate change and altered thermal niches. Science 328: 894-899. article