Meeting Abstract

61.2  Wednesday, Jan. 6  Performance prevails over signal size during staged dominance encounters between male green anole lizards HENNINGSEN, J. P.*; IRSCHICK, D. J.; U. of Massachusetts Amherst; U. of Massachusetts Amherst

Animals use signals to convey information to conspecifics, but the information content and reliability of a signal in a given context are often unknown. Green anole lizards (Anolis carolinensis) have a brightly colored dewlap that is displayed to conspecifics during agonistic encounters and courtship. There is a significant and size-independent positive correlation between dewlap size and maximum bite force in green anoles. This suggests that dewlap size may be used as a reliable signal of bite force in this species. However, it is unclear in what contexts (territorial advertisements, aggressive interactions, etc.) the role of the dewlap as a reliable signal of bite force is relevant. Using a novel technique to surgically manipulate dewlap size, we tested whether dewlap size affects the outcome of staged dominance interactions. By manipulating dewlap size, we decouple signal size from performance, thus testing the relative role of the two traits on the outcome of staged interactions. Our data show that dewlap reduction did not influence dominance relationships, whereas bite force performance was the most important factor in the outcome. These results are consistent with the view that dewlap is used as territorial advertisement of male quality but performance is the more important trait during aggressive interactions.