, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 128-133

Chemosensory discrimination of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics by lizards: implications of field spatial relationships between males

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The ability of territorial lizards to discriminate between scents of neighbors and non-neighbors might contribute to decreasing the costs of aggressive interactions. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a field study to analyze the spatial relationships between male Iberian rock-lizards, Lacerta monticola. We then used the same individuals in a laboratory experiment to test whether male lizards can use chemical cues to discriminate between familiar conspecific males (those whose home ranges overlapped) and unfamiliar conspecific males (those whose home ranges did not overlap, and whose home range centers were at least 50 m apart). Differences in tongue-flick rates in the presence of chemical cues suggested that male L. monticola discriminated between odors of familiar and unfamiliar males. The behavioral responses were also dependent on relative differences in body size between the responding male and the unfamiliar male that donated the scent: There was a significant negative correlation between tongue-flick rates emitted in cages of unfamiliar males and the body size differences between males. In contrast, when the donor of the scent was a familiar male, the tongue-flick rate was not dependent on body size differences. These results are compatible with individual discrimination through chemical cues in male L. monticola.

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