In a recent publication in the Israel journal of ecology and evolution, we (Gavin Stark, Rachel Schwarz and Shai Meiri) showed that nocturnality does not prolong lifespan among the within gekkotan species. Species from the infraorder Gekkota are known to be predominately nocturnal as opposed to other lizard clades. Diurnal lizards demonstrate higher metabolic rates than nocturnal ones. Moreover, exposure to solar radiation is thought to reduce ectothermic longevity by increasing both metabolic costs and the rate of accumulating harmful mutations through UV radiation. Thus, we assume that by being nocturnal, ectothermic species may reduce their intrinsic mortality rates and thus live longer. We compared groups of nocturnal and diurnal species across all gekkotan families, and also compared all non-gekkotan species to geckos (740 lizard species, of which 185 are geckos) to test whether nocturnality select for longer lifespans. We found that geckos live relatively long for lizards of their size, however their activity time was found to be unrelated to longevity, contradicting our predictions. We suggest that mortality through extrinsic causes (e.g., predation) may impose much stronger selective pressures than intrinsic causes.
Author: Gavin Stark
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