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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


CAROTHERS, JOHN H.; JAKSIC, FABIÁN M.  and  MARQUET, PABLO A.. Altitudinal zonation among lizards of the genus Liolaemus: questions answered and unanswered questions. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.2, pp.313-316. ISSN 0716-078X.

We review factors influencing Liolaemus distributions in the central Chilean Andes and suggest areas of future research. Our previous studies reveal that lizard parasites (ectoparasitic mites and ticks, and the endoparasite Plasmodium) do not set Liolaemus altitudinal limits. Thermal tolerances do not appear to limit altitudinal distributions, although cold ambient temperatures dictate that only live-bearing species can occur above 2,400 m elevation. Three Liolaemus species specialize on elevationally restricted microhabitats. Liolaemus tenuis is found exclusively in or at the base of trees, which are typically below 1,800 m. Liolaemus leopardinus specializes on large rocky outcrops found at high altitudes. Liolaemus monticola uses smaller rocks: oviparity set its upper distributional limit on two transects, but on one transect this lizard and its rocky habitat virtually disappeared above 1,500 m. Interspecific competition among Liolaemus appeared unrelated to elevational distribution. We found no instances of parapatric distributions among pairs of Liolaemus species having similar niche requirements. Other researchers have found that predation does not correlate with elevation: its role in determining lizard species distributions depends on both predator and prey identities. We conclude that factors setting distributional limits of Liolaemus species vary depending on individual circumstances in time and space: where physiology may be relevant on one transect, preferred microhabitat availability may be important in another

Keywords : altitudinal gradient; central Chile; species distribution; thermal biology; parasite load; microhabitat preference; interspecific competition.

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