Research Article

Reproduction, sexual dimorphism and predation in Mochlus sundevallii in southern Africa (Reptilia: Sauria, Scincidae)

Published in: African Zoology
Volume 56, issue 3, 2021 , pages: 213–221
DOI: 10.1080/15627020.2021.1976077
Author(s): Joaquín Verdú Ricoy, South Africa, Phomolo Mashinini, South Africa, Jacqueline Goedhals, South Africa, Neil Heideman, South Africa

Abstract

The skink Mochlus sundevallii is widespread throughout the African continent, but no detailed research on its ecology, reproduction and sexual dimorphism patterns has been performed yet. Here we address phenotypic and ecological data of M. sundevallii from the southernmost part of its distribution, using multiple populations from Southern Africa (mostly from South Africa) collected throughout different seasons. We aimed to assess the degree of intersexual and seasonal differences in morphological and reproductive aspects, as well as their experienced predation pressure. Morphological analyses confirmed that the species exhibits sexual dimorphism, evidenced by a larger body size for females and larger heads and longer limbs for males. However, tail autotomy (used as an estimation of predation rate) was found to be similar for both sexes and seasonally stable. Overall, the reproductive cycles of males and females were synchronised across the seasons, for an optimal breeding period during spring and summer, but males showed certain spermatogenic activity throughout the whole year.

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