, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 141-147

Dominance and reproduction in a parthenogenetic lizard

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Summary

In most vertebrates, males and females are believed to differ in terms of their investment in offspring. Dominance theory suggests that one way individuals of the sex with lower parental investment can increase reproductive success would be to dominate others of the same sex. The dominant competitors are thought to achieve preferred access to mates, and thus, have greater reproductive success than subordinates.

Reproduction in parthenogenetic Cnemidophorus uniparens normally proceeds without males, but individuals exhibit mounting behaviors in captivity that are typical of closely related Cnemidophorus species that reproduce sexually. Thus, these animals provide an unusual opportunity to study the effects of behavior on reproduction apart from copulation and fertilization. In this study relationships between dominance and reproduction were investigated in the unisexual lizard species, C. uniparens. Dominance hierarchies were rapidly established and maintained in the laboratory by agonistic encounters among individuals. The number of times an individual charged its cagemates was positively correlated with the number of clutches and eggs laid. Also, dominant animals who charged their cagemates were likely to win agonistic encounters; recipients of charges usually fled. Hierarchies based on different behaviors were not all related to reproduction. Charges as a predictor of dominance was unrelated to body length, percent increase in body length and time spent in the basking site. However, individuals with a high percent increase in body length spent more time basking. This is likely a result of the increased energy demands of growth in addition to reproduction. Physiological stress as measured by plasma corticosterone titers was unrelated to dominance. We suggest that dominance is an important factor affecting reproduction in C. uniparens.