Negative correlation between nuptial throat colour and blood parasite load in male European green lizards supports the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis
- 756 Downloads
During female mate choice, conspicuous male sexual signals are used to infer male quality and choose the best sire for the offspring. The theory of parasite-mediated sexual selection (Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis) presumes that parasite infection can influence the elaboration of sexual signals: resistant individuals can invest more energy into signal expression and thus advertise their individual quality through signal intensity. By preferring these males, females can provide resistance genes for their offspring. Previous research showed that nuptial throat colour of male European green lizard, Lacerta viridis, plays a role in both inter- and intrasexual selections as a condition-dependent multiple signalling system. The aim of this study was to test the predictions of the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis on male European green lizards. By blood sampling 30 adult males during the reproductive season, we found members of the Haemogregarinidae family in all but one individual (prevalence = 96 %). The infection intensity showed strong negative correlation with the throat and belly colour brightness in line with the predictions of the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis. In addition, we found other correlations between infection intensity and other fitness-related traits, suggesting that parasite load has a remarkable effect on individual fitness. This study shows that throat patch colour of the European green lizards not only is a multiple signalling system but also possibly acts as an honest sexual signal of health state in accordance with the Hamilton–Zuk hypothesis.
KeywordsHamilton–Zuk hypothesis Nuptial coloration Blood parasite Haemogregarinidae Lizard
We would like to thank Prof. Joseph J. Schall for his indispensable help in identifying the blood parasites. We also thank Michael L. Logan for his useful comments and correcting the English. The study was supported by OTKA (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, ref. no. F68403 and K105517). We thank Middle–Danube–Valley Environmental, Nature and Water Inspectorate for the permission to conduct this study (project no. 31203-3/2010).
Experiments were performed according to the guidelines of the Hungarian Act of Animal Care and Experimentation (1998, XXVIII, section 243/ 1998), which conforms to the regulation of animal experiments by the European Union.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Andersson M (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Bajer K, Molnar O, Torok J, Herczeg G (2012) Temperature, but not available energy, affects the expression of a sexually selected ultraviolet (UV) colour trait in male European green lizards. PLoS ONE 7 (3):e34359. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0034359
- Barnard SM, Upton SJ (1994) A veterinary guide to the parasites of reptiles, vol. 1. Protozoa. Krieger, MalabarGoogle Scholar
- Borgia G, Collis K (1990) Parasites and bright male plumage in the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). Am Zool 30:279–285Google Scholar
- Clayton DH (1990) Mate choice in experimentally parasitized rock doves—lousy males lose. Am Zool 30(2):251–262Google Scholar
- del Cerro S, Merino S, Martinez-de la Puente J, Lobato E, Ruiz-de Castañeda R, Rivero-de Aaguilar J, Martinez J, Morales J, Tomas G, Moreno J (2010) Carotenoid-based plumage colouration is associated with blood parasite richness and stress protein levels in blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus). Oecologia 162:825–835PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Paperna I, Lainson R (2004) Hepatozoon cf. terzii (Sambon & Seligman, 1907) infection in the snake boa constrictor constrictor from north Brazil: transmission to the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus and the lizard Tropidurus torquatus. Parasite-Journal De La Societe Francaise De Parasitologie 11(2):175–181Google Scholar
- Petit G, Landau I, Baccam D, Lainson R (1990) Description et cycle biologique d’Hemolivia stellata n. g., n. sp., hémogrégarine de crapauds brésiliens. Ann Parasitol Hum Comp 65:3–15Google Scholar
- Telford SR (2009) Haemoparasites of the Reptilia. CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
- Trivers RL (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Campbell B (ed) Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–197. Aldine, Chicago, pp 136–179Google Scholar