Field studies of lizard copulation from physiological mechanisms of mating to behavioral correlates of paternity

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S3-3  Mon Jan 4 11:00 – 11:30  Field studies of lizard copulation: from physiological mechanisms of mating to behavioral correlates of paternity Johnson, MA*; Kirby, R; Fresquez, CC; Wang, S; Stehle, CM; Templeton, AR; Losos, JB; Kamath, A; Trinity University; US Fish and Wildlife Service; University of California, Davis; Movement Specialists Physical Therapy; Trinity University; Washington University; Washington University; University of California, Berkeley

Animal mating can be understood as a sequence of events that begins with individuals encountering one another and ends with the production of offspring. Behavioral descriptions of animal mating systems characterize early elements of this sequence, and genetic descriptions use offspring paternity to characterize the final outcome, with mechanisms of copulation and fertilization comprising intermediate steps. However, behavioral and genetic descriptions of mating systems are often inconsistent with one another, and the framework of territoriality may contribute to this inconsistency. The lizard Anolis cristatellus has long been described as territorial, and here we use behavioral and genetic data from this species to test hypotheses predicted by the territorial framework. We find that 26% of offspring are sired by males whose home ranges do not overlap those of the mother, a substantial departure from expectations under territoriality. We also find that proximity in space and time and male body size, but not display behavior, are significant correlates of whether a male sires a particular female’s offspring and how many offspring he sires. Our results indicate sexual selection on male body size, and suggest that more nuanced approaches are necessary to understand the role of male display in these lizards’ mating behavior.

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