Hydric “costs” of reproduction: Pregnancy increases evaporative water loss in the snake vipera aspis

Olivier Lourdais, Andréaz Dupoué, Michaël Guillon, Gaëtan Guiller, Bruno Michaud, Dale Denardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Water constraints can mediate evolutionary conflict either among individuals (e.g., parent-offspring conflict, sexual conflict) or within an individual (e.g., cost of reproduction). During pregnancy, water is of particular importance because the female provides all water needed for embryonic development and experiences important maternal shifts in behavior and physiology that, together, can compromise female water balance if water availability is limited. We examined the effect of pregnancy on evaporative water loss and microhabitat selection in a viviparous snake, the aspic viper. We found that both physiological (increased metabolism and body temperature) and morphological (body distension) changes contribute to an increased evaporative water loss in pregnant females. We also found that pregnant females in the wild select warmer andmoister basking locations than nonreproductive females, likely to mitigate the conflict between thermal needs and water loss. Water resources likely induce significant reproductive constraints across diverse taxa and thus warrant further consideration in ecological research. From an evolutionary perspective, water constraints during reproduction may contribute to shaping reproductive effort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-672
Number of pages10
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Behavioral mitigation
  • Physiological trade-off
  • Viviparity
  • Water loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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