Experience overrides colour in lizard contests

Stuart-Fox, D. M. and Johnston, G. R. (2005) Experience overrides colour in lizard contests. Behaviour, 142 3: 329-350. doi:10.1163/1568539053778265

Author Stuart-Fox, D. M.
Johnston, G. R.
Title Experience overrides colour in lizard contests
Journal name Behaviour   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0005-7959
Publication date 2005-03
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1163/1568539053778265
Volume 142
Issue 3
Start page 329
End page 350
Total pages 22
Place of publication Leiden
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject C1
270799 Ecology and Evolution not elsewhere classified
780105 Biological sciences
0608 Zoology
Abstract We examined the role of conspicuous coloration in male-male contests for two species of Australian dragon lizards, Ctenophortis decresii and C. vadnappa, in which conspicuous coloration has a demonstrated predation cost. We conducted contests in which the overall conspicuousness of male coloration was manipulated using paints that matched the spectral reflectance of the lizards, as well as natural (control) contests. There was little evidence for an influence of colour on contest outcome or aggression levels for either species when all experiments were considered. However, we found a significant effect of trial order and experience on contest outcome and aggression levels (the same pair of males was used for both types of contest), despite a 2-3 week interval between contests. When we examined only the first trial between unfamiliar males, we found that male C. vadnappa that had been painted to appear more conspicuous consistently won. Comparison with the natural trials suggests that the aspect of colour manipulation that was responsible for this result was the 'hue' of the throat: males with yellower throats consistently beat males with bluer throats in both natural and painted trials. The difference in coloration of flank markings also predicted the difference in aggression scores between contestants in the natural trials. These results suggest that although colour is important in opponent assessment and in determining contest outcome in C vadnappa, previous agonistic experience can override the effects of colour and have a long-lasting influence on aggressive behaviour.
Keyword Experience Effect
Male Competition
Sexual Selection
Behavioral Sciences
Male-male Competition
Agonistic Experience
Aggressive Interactions
Relative Importance
Nuptial Coloration
Fighting Behavior
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 32 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 30 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 06:04:40 EST