A bright ultraviolet (UV) component in the coloration of males may signal individual quality and thus determine the outcome of male-male contests. Yet, the role of the UV component of coloration in resolving conflicts is still controversial relative to factors such as residency status and seasonality. Here, we investigated whether a reduction of UV reflectance of lateral blue spots in male wall lizards (Podarcis muralis) interacts with residency status (resident vs. intruder) to influence agonistic behaviors, the outcome of contests, and basking time (a measure of spatial dominance). We performed this experiment during one breeding and one non-breeding season. The UV manipulation did not predict the outcome of contests. During the breeding season, the agonistic behaviors and basking time depended on the residency status of males but not on their UV treatment. During the non-breeding season, experimental factors affected basking time only. For a given male, the time spent basking depended in a complex manner on its residency status, its UV treatment, and those of its rival. UV reflectance of blue spots thus influences the processes of mutual assessment and spatial dominance, but is not a critical determinant of fighting success. Altogether, these results evidence context-dependent effects of the UV reflectance of blue spots on territorial behaviors according to residency status and, potentially, season. They also suggest that UV signaling may be more important than expected for male-male interactions during the non-breeding season.
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We thank Elodie Zrak and Beatriz Decencière Ferrandière for helping in the laboratory and Julia Saravia for providing lizards used during the non-breeding season. We are also grateful to Claire Doutrelant and Alice Rémy who kindly advised us for this manuscript and to Jessica Stapley and Pascal Mège for critical reading of the paper and English checking. This research was supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and an Agence National de la Recherche (ANR) grant (07-JCJC-0120) to JFLG.
Compliance with ethical standards
Authorization No. 2007-189-005 allowed us to capture and manipulate wild animals for this study. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Communicated by T. Madsen
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Martin, M., Meylan, S., Perret, S. et al. UV coloration influences spatial dominance but not agonistic behaviors in male wall lizards. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 69, 1483–1491 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-015-1960-7
- Intrasexual selection
- Podarcis muralis
- Structural coloration
- Territorial conflict