Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 169-173

Why are sand lizard males (Lacerta agilis) not equally green?

  • Mats OlssonAffiliated withDepartment of Zoology Division of Animal Ecology, University of Goteborg

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Sexual selection theory and game theory posit that cues to mate quality and fighting ability should be costly to be honest. Male sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) consider a rival's nuptial coloration when making strategic decisions in contests, and in this paper I examine five mechanisms (both proximate and ultimate ones) that could constrain male nuptial coloration. Three of these mechanisms were rejected as potential constraints on male nuptial coloration: testosterone, predation, and parasites. Two mechanisms could not be rejected as constraints on male pigmentation: differential allocation of energy to reproduction versus somatic growth among males, and social costs due to high aggression from conspecific males.

Key words

Nuptial coloration Variability Proximate causation Ultimate causation