Oecologia

, Volume 146, Issue 4, pp 675–680 | Cite as

The influence of parasites on the retention of long-term partnerships in the Australian sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa

Behavioural Ecology

Abstract

Many studies have shown that potential partners are less likely to be chosen for mating if they are infected with parasites, although most of those studies have considered short-term choices. This paper shows that the Australian sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa (Scincoidea), retains long-term pair fidelity for up to 21 years. However, in some cases pairs separate, and abandoned males have significantly higher tick loads in their last year with their previous female partner than did males that retained their partners from 1 year to the next. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that pair bonds are retained because individuals, both with low infection levels, are less likely to become infected if they remain with the same sexual partner.

Keywords

Lizards Mating systems Monogamy Parasites Ticks 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research has been funded over 22 years by grants from the Australian Research Council and from the Flinders University Research Budget. We are grateful to the landholders of the study area for their tolerance and hospitality, and particularly to Clem and Ruth Jaensch, and Ron and Leona Clarke, successive owners of Bundey Bore Station, and the Eberhardt family who allowed us use of the Winters property in the earlier years. Very many Honours and Postgraduate students, research assistants and volunteer field workers have contributed to the data gathering in one or more years. The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Flinders University Animal Welfare Committee in compliance with the Australian Code of Practice for the use of animals for scientific purposes.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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