, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 342-347

Symmetry, male dominance and female mate preferences in the Iberian rock lizard, Lacerta monticola

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Female preference for dominant males is widespread and it is generally assumed that success in male-male competition reflects high quality. However, male dominance is not always attractive to females. Alternatively, relatively symmetric individuals may experience fitness advantages, but it remains to be determined whether males with more symmetrical secondary sexual traits experience advantages in both intra- and intersexual selection. We analysed the factors that determine dominance status in males of the lizard Lacerta monticola, and their relationship to female mate preference, estimated by the attractiveness of males' scents to females. Sexually dimorphic traits of this lizard (head size and femoral pores) appear to be advanced by different selection pressures. Males with relatively higher heads, which give them advantage in intrasexual contests, were more dominant. However, head size was unimportant to females, which preferred to be in areas marked by relatively heavier males, but also by males more symmetric in their counts of left and right femoral pores. Chemicals arising from the femoral pores and other glands might honestly indicate quality (i.e. related to the symmetry levels) of a male to females and may result from intersexual selection. Females may use this information because the only benefit of mate choice to female lizards may be genetic quality. Chemical signals may be more reliable and have a greater importance in sexual selection processes of lizards than has previously been considered.