, Volume 95, Issue 4, pp 293–300 | Cite as

Parasites and health affect multiple sexual signals in male common wall lizards, Podarcis muralis

Original Paper


Multiple advertising sexual traits may either advertise different characteristics of male condition or be redundant to reinforce reliability of signals. Research has focused on multiple visual traits. However, in animals that use different multiple additional sensory systems, such as chemoreception, different types of traits might have evolved to signal similar characteristics of a male quality using different sensory channels. We examined whether ventral coloration and chemicals in femoral gland secretions of male common wall lizards, Podarcis muralis, are affected by their health state (blood-parasite load and cell-mediated immune response). Our results indicated that less parasitized lizards had brighter and more yellowish ventral colorations and also femoral secretions with higher proportions of two esters of octadecenoic acid. In addition, lizards with a greater immune response had more saturated coloration and secretions with higher proportions of octadecenoic acid methyl ester. We suggest that these signals would be reliable because only healthier males seemed able to allocate more carotenoids to coloration and presumably costly chemicals to secretions. The use of multiple sensory channels may provide more opportunities to signal a male quality under different circumstances, but also may reinforce the reliability of the signal when both types of traits may be perceived simultaneously.


Sexual signals Parasites Immune response Coloration Femoral glands 



We thank three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments, “El Ventorrillo” MNCN Field Station for use of their facilities, and J. Moreno for allowing us to use the spectrophotometer. Financial support was provided by the MEC project CGL2005–00391/BOS, and by an “El Ventorrillo” CSIC and a MEC postdoctoral fellowship grants to L. Amo. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country (Spain) in which they were performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ecología EvolutivaMuseo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, C.S.I.C.MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Animal Population BiologyCentre for Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)HeterenThe Netherlands

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