Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 9, pp 1357–1362 | Cite as

Receiver sex differences in visual response to dynamic motion signals in Sceloporus lizards

  • Saúl S. NavaEmail author
  • Lorna Moreno
  • Danfeng Wang
Original Paper


Visual signal properties often vary greatly between and within individuals in a variety of social contexts. While it is widely known that visual displays emitted by senders can exhibit great variation in efficacy and content, far less is understood whether and how receivers vary in the ability to respond to variability in signal properties, such as motion. Here, we tested for receiver sex differences in visual response latency to motion signals in Sceloporus undulatus lizards. We used a moving robotic lizard model as a visual stimulus to assay response latency in male and female lizards. We measured visual reaction times to slow and fast, up-and-down motions, characteristic of territorial and courtship male motion displays, respectively. We found sex differences in response latency to the two different displays. Specifically, male lizards were faster than females at responding to slow motion produced by the robotic lizard, while female lizards were faster than males at responding to fast motion. These results demonstrate that dynamic visual signals that vary temporally under different social contexts can differ in eliciting a visual response from each sex. Our study highlights that physical differences in dynamic and complex visual signals exhibited during different social contexts (i.e., territorial and courtship contexts) can closely match sex differences in visual responses.


Sex difference Motion signals Detectability Animal communication Robot Sceloporus undulatus 



We thank Stephanie Dowdy-Nava and Hector Riveroll for their assistance in the field. We also thank Stephanie Dowdy-Nava, Emília Martins, Greg Demas, Laura Hurley, Suresh Viswanathan, and two anonymous reviewers for the constructive comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript. We thank the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for the permits. LM was supported as a research intern in the NSF-funded REU summer program in Animal Behavior at Indiana University's Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. DW was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Capstone Grant at Indiana University. The research was also supported through a predoctoral fellowship from the National Eye Institute to SSN.

Ethical standards

This research was approved by the Bloomington Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Indiana and adhered to the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour/Animal Behaviour Society Guidelines for the Use of Animals in Research, the legal requirements of the USA, and all institutional guidelines.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal BehaviorIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.The Biological LaboratoriesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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