The function of orange breeding coloration in the social behavior of the long-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cc08hj781

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  • The role of orange coloration in the breeding behavior of Gambelia wislizenii was examined in the Alvord Basin of southeast Oregon. Behavioral observations of free ranging lizards supplemented field experiments where I manipulated the sex and color of lizards encountered by resident female G. wislizenii before and after they acquired orange coloration. G. wislizenii exhibited a behavioral repertoire typical of the family Iguanidae. Twenty-four behaviors were observed and discussed in the text. Female G. wislizenii avoided plain females and males early in the breeding season, while males courted both indiscriminately. Female avoidance forced males to pursue females in order to secure the neck grip necessary for copulation. Female coyness may exert selective pressure on males to display characteristics that would improve their offspring's chances of survival. Possible advantages of male-male "courtship" are discussed. Most orange females were unreceptive to male courtship and reacted with overt aggression to such advances. Males may maintain a neck grip on females for up to three hours, therefore it is to a gravid female's advantage to discourage male courtship, and thus avoid unnecessary incapacitation. The high level aggression of orange females was usually an effective deterrent to male courtship; however, a rape strategy was substituted for courtship on occasion. The rape strategy was characterized by 10-20 m headlong dashes ending in a tackle of the female. This behavior led to wrestling and thrashing, but never to a successful copulation. Free ranging female-female interactions were rarely observed between plain females but became increasingly frequent between orange females toward the end of the breeding season. Orange females were tolerant of other orange females, but generally intolerant of all plain lizards and became aggressive if approached by a plain lizard of either sex. Orange female tolerance was often preceded by tongue flicking near the vents of other orange females, suggesting that olfactory and/or gustatory cues may be important in sex determination. Behavioral observations and experimental results indicate that orange coloration in breeding female G. wislizenii serves as a deterrent to male courtship, and as an appeasement signal to other females. It may prevent unnecessary expenditures of energy on the part of males once they learn to associate orange color with unreceptive females, and on the part of females which need not display high level aggressive postures toward other females to discourage courtship. Deterrence of courtship may be important in protecting gravid females from excessive exposure to predation, and interruption of feeding.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-08-06T17:41:18Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 MooreEdith1984.pdf: 663424 bytes, checksum: 3e355c4c370c91210a6eb0b9c0104a55 (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2013-08-15T19:49:29Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 MooreEdith1984.pdf: 663424 bytes, checksum: 3e355c4c370c91210a6eb0b9c0104a55 (MD5)

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