We investigated geographical variation in ecological parameters among populations of Cnemidophorus cryptus, Cnemidophorus gramivagus, Cnemidophorus lemniscatus, Cnemidophorus ocellifer, and Cnemidophorus parecis, from three Brazilian biomes (Cerrado, Caatinga, and Amazonian Savannas). Lizards used mainly the open ground, with a high similarity in microhabitat use among populations. Differences in microhabitat use probably resulted from the availability of microhabitats and not from microhabitat preferences. Body temperatures were high and little influenced by environmental temperatures, there being no differences among populations. There were significant differences in diet among populations, with C. ocellifer from Caatinga and Cerrado consuming large quantities of termites, whereas Amazonian Savanna species used primarily ants and insect larvae. The data on reproductive seasonality indicated cyclical reproduction in seasonal biomes and continuous reproduction in unpredictable climate regions. We found significant differences in mean clutch size among populations, independent of body size, with C. lemniscatus having the smallest clutch size (1.50) and C. ocellifer from Cerrado the largest (2.10). There were fewer differences in clutch size among species from Amazonian Savannas, than between populations of C. ocellifer from Caatinga and Cerrado. Apparently, populations under seasonal climates concentrate their reproductive effort during the short reproductive season, producing larger clutches, whereas those under more stable or unpredictable climates reproduce continuously, yielding smaller clutches, corroborating the hypothesis that environmental conditions exert an important influence upon life-history parameters. There were significant differences in body shape among populations, but most of the variation was related to sex. We also observed significant differences in body size among populations, seemingly unrelated to differences in community structure, but the highly conservative morphology of Cnemidophorus species suggests the presence of historical constraints.
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Vol. 2003 • No. 2