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NO EVIDENCE OF FEMALE CHOICE FOR A CONDITION-DEPENDENT TRAIT IN THE AGAMID LIZARD, CTENOPHORUS ORNATUS

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Female choice has rarely been documented in reptiles. In this study we examined the variation, condition-dependence and female preference for a range of male morphological and colour traits in the agamid lizard, Ctenophorus ornatus. Colour traits were measured with reflectance spectrophotometry which allows the accurate quantification of colour traits independent of the human visual system. All the colour traits varied greatly in brightness but only the throat showed high variation in the spectral shape. For the morphological traits, chest patch size showed the highest amount of variation and was also condition-dependent. Males with a larger chest patch also had a patch which was a darker black. Female mate choice trials were conducted on male chest patch size and body size, which is the trait females have preferred in other lizard species. Females showed no preference, measured as spatial association, for larger males or males with bigger chest patches. In post-hoc tests females did not prefer males with brighter throats or darker chests. Our findings suggest that females show no spatial discrimination between males on the basis of a range of traits most expected to influence female choice.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands WA 6907, Australia; 2: Vision Touch and Hearing Research Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia

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