Shifts in thermal preference of introduced Asian house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) in temperate regions of southeastern Australia.

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Journal Article
Journal of thermal biology, 2020, 91
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Despite its tropical origin, the Asian house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is currently invading higher latitudes around the world. In this study, we investigated whether the introduced geckos in the subtropical/temperate region of southeastern Australia have shifted their thermal biology to cope with colder temperatures. In the lab, we measured the body temperatures of geckos from Thailand and Australia in a cost-free thermal gradient. Native H. frenatus from Thailand displayed a diel pattern of thermoregulation. Geckos maintained higher body temperatures during mid-afternoon and at dusk but selected cooler temperatures during the night. Introduced geckos showed a similar pattern of thermoregulation, but selected lower body temperatures in summer (mean = 28.9 °C) and winter (mean = 25.5 °C) than native geckos (mean = 31.5 °C). While the Asian house geckos from Thailand did not alter their body temperatures after feeding, their conspecifics from southeastern Australia selected body temperatures that were 1.6-3.1 °C higher after feeding. In conclusion, our study shows that invasive house geckos in Australia have shifted their preferred body temperatures downwards relative to their native conspecifics in Thailand, presumably as a result of plasticity or natural selection. Our findings suggest that these tropical geckos have adapted to colder regions, and thus, they may spread much further than expected for a tropical ectotherm.
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