Highly variable lifespan in an annual reptile, Labord’s chameleon (Furcifer labordi)
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/16497
Among tetrapods, the current record holder for shortest lifespan is Labord's chameleon, Furcifer labordi. These reptiles from the arid southwest of Madagascar have a reported lifespan of 4-5 months during the annual rainy season and spend the majority of their life (8-9 months) as a developing embryo. This semelparous, annual life history is unique among tetrapods, but only one population (Ranobe) in the southernmost distribution range has been studied. We therefore investigated the potential for environmentally-dependent variability in lifespan in a population in Kirindy Forest, which has a much longer warm rainy season. While no adults were found after March in Ranobe, the disappearance of adults was delayed by several months in Kirindy. Our data also revealed sex-biased mortality, suggesting that females have a longevity advantage. Furthermore, we found that, after an unusually long previous rainy season, one female was capable of surviving until a second breeding season. Keeping F. labordi in cages under ambient conditions demonstrated that also males can also survive until the next season of activity under these conditions. Our study therefore revealed considerable variability in the extreme life history of this tetrapod that is linked to variation in ecological factors.