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Ultraviolet reflectance of male nuptial colouration in sand lizards (Lacerta agilis) from the Pyrenees

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The evolutionary significance of lacertid colourations is relatively unexplored. However, several studies have demonstrated signalling by means of bright green colouration in Swedish Lacerta agilis males during the breeding season. Unfortunately, most of these studies have been based on human colour perception that differs in several ways from that of lizard. An important difference between human and lizard colour vision is the presence of an ultraviolet (UV) sensitive cone in lizards. The available evidence suggests that male sand lizards colorations do not reflect UV wavelengths, at least in Swedish populations. However, this study, based on objective (spectrophotometric) measures of Pyrenean L. agilis, revealed a secondary reflectance peak in the UV in male green colouration. This secondary peak increases sexual dichromatism and male conspicuousness. Moreover, it could have a social signalling function as do similar UV reflecting patches in other lizard species.

Affiliations: 1: Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de València, APT. 22085, 46071, València, Spain

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