Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 249-252

First online:

Rival recognition affects male contest behavior in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis)

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

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Individual male sand lizards meet repeatedly during mate search and engage in costly interactions. If males can recognize rivals, the number of costly fights with a predictable outcome may be reduced. In staged contests between males, second interactions are on average significantly shorter than first ones, suggesting individual recognition. When aggressive behavior differs substantially between the sexes, the more aggressive sex may be predicted to have more variation in skin traits located on the parts of the body displayed during contests; this would facilitate individual recognition. Male (aggressive) sand lizards are more variable in two of three lateral skin traits displayed during males' contests, while females (non-aggressive) are more variable in one dorsal skin trait; in four other dorsal traits there was no difference in variability between the sexes.

Key words

Contests Recognition Skin trait Variability