The ability to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics is important for many animals, especially territorial species since it allows them to avoid unnecessary interactions with individuals that pose little threat. There are very few studies, however, that identify the proximate cues that facilitate such recognition in visual systems. Here, we show that in tawny dragons (Ctenophorus decresii), males can recognize familiar and unfamiliar conspecific males based on morphological features alone, without the aid of chemical or behavioural cues. We further show that it is the colour pattern of the throat patches (gular) that facilitates this recognition.
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We thank the Animal Experimentation Ethics Committee of the ANU (Protocol No. F.BTZ.37.01); SA National Parks and Wildlife Services (permit M24494) and Environment ACT (permit K8164).
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