Following trails of partners in the monogamous lizard, Tiliqua rugosa
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The sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa, is an Australian scincid lizard that forms monogamous pairs for 6–8 weeks in the spring before mating occurs. Previous observations and experiments have shown that when partners are separated they can relocate each other, and one suggested mechanism has been trail following. In this article we report results from field-based Y-maze experiments to investigate trail following. In the first part of the spring season, female lizards were more likely to use the arm of the maze previously taken by their male partner than either a blank arm of the maze or the arm taken by an unfamiliar adult male. Females that were more frequently found with their male partner during the spring season were more likely to follow the path of their male partner than less strongly bonded females. In the second part of the spring, after mating had occurred in the natural population, females no longer showed a preference in the maze. Males showed no significant tendency to follow their female partner in any part of the season. The results suggest there is trail following, at least by females, and that females play an active role in maintaining the partnership. This refutes male-based explanations, like mate guarding, for monogamy.
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