Experiments on the Reproductive Costs of a Pure Capital Breeder, the Children’s Python (Antaresia childreni) (2013), by Olivier Lourdais, Sophie Lorioux, and Dale F. DeNardo
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In 2013, Olivier Lourdais, Sophie Lorioux, and Dale DeNardo conducted a study on the impact of the reproductive effort on the muscle size and the constriction strength of female Children’s pythons. Children’s pythons are pure capital breeders, meaning that they do not eat during vitellogenesis, a process in which egg-laying or oviparous species allocate bodily resources including fat, water, and protein to follicles in the ovary that develop into eggs. In their study, the researchers aimed to identify the biological tradeoffs associated with a species that uses only stored bodily resources to allocate toward the development of embryos. The researchers found that female Children’s pythons undergoing vitellogenesis experienced significant muscle loss and constriction strength loss. The researchers’ findings make up an important element in assessing the fitness of a species in the wild as fitness is determined by survivability and ability to reproduce. Additionally, because Children’s pythons have especially low metabolic rates, and the energy constraints associated with reproduction in Children’s pythons are applicable to many other python species.