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Social monogamy and extra-pair fertilization in an Australian lizard, Tiliqua rugosa


This study investigates social monogamy in the Australian sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa. At a 70-ha site near Mount Mary, South Australia, we radio tracked 55 adult female and 39 adult male lizards during their spring activity periods. Each lizard was observed in 1–5 years. Females were observed with a single male partner on an average of 10.8 days per year, although in 17.3% of cases, females were observed on 2 or fewer days with a male. The most intense pairing period each year was 15 September–15 November when females were with male partners on an average of 36% of observation days. Partnerships lasted an average of 43.3 days each year. After mating in early November, the pairs separated. Observations of females pairing with other males were rare. Most males (82%) were also consistently monogamous, although 7 were observed pairing with 2 females within one season. To investigate paternity, we allowed 21 gravid females to give birth to 42 offspring in the laboratory. We determined genotypes at five polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci for the females, their male partners and their offspring. Four litters (19%) and 6 of the offspring from those litters (14.3%) showed evidence of extra-pair fertilization (EPF). Although the sample sizes are small, females of polygynous males were more likely to experience EPF.

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Received: 22 February 1998 / Accepted after revision: 23 May 1998

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Bull, C., Cooper, S. & Baghurst, B. Social monogamy and extra-pair fertilization in an Australian lizard, Tiliqua rugosa . Behav Ecol Sociobiol 44, 63–72 (1998).

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