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Journal Articles Conservation Physiology Year : 2021

Water deprivation compromises maternal physiology and reproductive success in a cold and wet adapted snake Vipera berus

Abstract

Droughts are becoming more intense and frequent with climate change. These extreme weather events can lead to mass mortality and reproduction failure, and therefore cause population declines. Understanding how the reproductive physiology of organisms is affected by water shortages will help clarify whether females can adjust their reproductive strategy to dry conditions or may fail to reproduce and survive. In this study, we investigated the consequences of a short period of water deprivation (2 weeks) during early pregnancy on the physiology and behaviour of a cold- and wet-adapted ectotherm (Vipera berus). We also examined water allocation to developing embryos and embryonic survival. Water-deprived females exhibited significant dehydration, physiological stress and loss of muscle mass. These effects of water deprivation on water balance and muscle loss were correlated with the number of developing embryos. While water-deprived females maintained water transfer to embryos at the expense of their own maintenance, water deprivation also led to embryonic mortality. Overall, water deprivation amplifies the reproductive costs of water allocation to support embryonic development. The deleterious impacts of water deprivation on female current reproductive performance and on potential survival and future reproduction could lead to severe population declines in this species.
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Dates and versions

hal-03343497 , version 1 (16-09-2021)

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Mathias Dezetter, Jean François Le Galliard, Gaëtan Guiller, Michaël Guillon, Mathieu Leroux-Coyau, et al.. Water deprivation compromises maternal physiology and reproductive success in a cold and wet adapted snake Vipera berus. Conservation Physiology, 2021, 9 (1), pp.1-14. ⟨10.1093/conphys/coab071⟩. ⟨hal-03343497⟩
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