Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 169–173

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

  • Mats Olsson

DOI: 10.1007/BF00167956

Cite this article as:
Olsson, M. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1994) 35: 169. doi:10.1007/BF00167956


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 colorationVariability Proximate causationUltimate causation

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats Olsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology Division of Animal EcologyUniversity of GoteborgGöteborgSweden
  2. 2.University of Sydney, School of Biological SciencesAustralia