Viviparity in high-altitude Phrynocephalus lizards is adaptive because embryos cannot fully develop without maternal thermoregulation
Incubation temperature influences hatchling phenotypes such as sex, size, shape, color, behavior, and locomotor performance in many reptiles, and there is growing concern that global warming might adversely affect reptile populations by altering frequencies of hatchling phenotypes. Here I overview a recent theoretical model used to predict hatchling sex of reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination. This model predicts that sex ratios will be fairly robust to moderate global warming as long as eggs experience substantial daily cyclic fluctuations in incubation temperatures so that embryos are exposed to temperatures that inhibit embryonic development for part of the day. I also review studies that examine the influence of incubation temperature on posthatch locomotion performance and growth because these are the traits that are likely to have the greatest effect on hatchling fitness. The majority of these studies used artificial constant-temperature incubation, but some have addressed fluctuating incubation temperature regimes. Although the number of studies is small, it appears that fluctuating temperatures may enhance hatchling locomotor performance. This finding should not be surprising, given that the majority of natural reptile nests are relatively shallow and therefore experience daily fluctuations in incubation temperature.