, Volume 99, Issue 10, pp 869–872 | Cite as

Male tawny dragons use throat patterns to recognize rivals

  • Louise Osborne
  • Kate D. L. Umbers
  • Patricia R. Y. Backwell
  • J. Scott Keogh
Short Communication


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.


Rival recognition Aggression Vision Ctenophorus Resource holding potential Colour Fighting ability Contest Behaviour 



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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise Osborne
    • 1
  • Kate D. L. Umbers
    • 1
  • Patricia R. Y. Backwell
    • 1
  • J. Scott Keogh
    • 1
  1. 1.Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of BiologyThe Australian National UniversityActonAustralia

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