Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 68, Issue 8, pp 1357–1366 | Cite as

Parentage analyses suggest female promiscuity and a disadvantage for athletic males in the colour-polymorphic lizard Podarcis melisellensis

  • Katleen Huyghe
  • Raoul Van Damme
  • Karin Breugelmans
  • Anthony Herrel
  • Bieke Vanhooydonck
  • Zoran Tadič
  • Thierry Backeljau
Original Paper


Although laboratory measurements of whole-animal performance have become a standard tool in evolutionary biology, if and how interindividual variation in performance translates into differential fitness remains poorly understood. Particularly rare are studies that have connected performance to mating and reproductive success in the field. In this study, we use DNA microsatellite parentage analyses to study the fitness gradient in a colour-polymorphic lizard, Podarcis melisellensis. We report on two surprising findings. First, contrary to our expectations, individual sprint speed and bite force capacity correlated negatively, not positively, with male mating and reproductive success. Second, we found an unexpected degree of promiscuity in females. Also, contrary to traditional parental investment theory, the variation in mating success and reproductive success was as high in females as in males. Our results call for a better integration of whole-animal performance and life history traits, and for a reconsideration of the ideas on the likeliness of sexual selection acting on female phenotypes.


Sexual selection Whole-animal performance Lacertidae Microsatellites Bateman’s principle 



We would like to thank S. Lailvaux during the capture of the hatchling lizards. We are also grateful to G. Paenen for his help with the microsatellite analyses. J. Meaney was so kind to revise the English language. This study was conducted with support of JEMU at RBINS and of FWO grants G.0111.06N and G.0092.11N. K. Huyghe is a postdoctoral fellow of FWO-Vlaanderen. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The authors declare that all experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed (Belgium).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katleen Huyghe
    • 1
    • 6
  • Raoul Van Damme
    • 1
  • Karin Breugelmans
    • 3
  • Anthony Herrel
    • 4
    • 5
  • Bieke Vanhooydonck
    • 1
  • Zoran Tadič
    • 2
  • Thierry Backeljau
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Animal PhysiologyUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Royal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Département d’Ecologie et de Gestion de la BiodiversitéParisFrance
  5. 5.Evolutionary Morphology of VertebratesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  6. 6.University of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium

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