Isolation and predation drive gecko life-history evolution on islands

Rachel Schwarz, Yuval Itescu, Antonis Antonopoulos, Ioanna Aikaterini Gavriilidi, Karin Tamar, Panayiotis Pafilis, Shai Meiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insular animals are thought to be under weak predation pressure and increased intraspecific competition compared with those on the mainland. Thus, insular populations are predicted to evolve 'slow' life histories characterized by fewer and smaller clutches of larger eggs, a pattern called the 'island syndrome'. To test this pattern, we collected data on egg volume, clutch size and laying frequency of 31 Aegean Island populations of the closely related geckos of the Mediodactylus kotschyi species complex. We tested how predation pressure, resource abundance, island area and isolation influenced reproductive traits. Isolation and predation were the main drivers of variation in life-history traits. Higher predator richness seemed to promote faster life histories, perhaps owing to predation on adults, whereas the presence of boas promoted slower life histories, perhaps owing to release from predation by rats on the eggs of geckos. Insular geckos followed only some of the predictions of the 'island syndrome'. Predation pressure seemed to be more complex than expected and drove life histories of species in two opposing directions. Our results highlight the importance of considering the identity of specific predators in ecological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-629
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.


  • Aegean Islands
  • clutch frequency
  • clutch size
  • egg volume
  • geckos
  • island biology
  • island syndrome
  • life-history traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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