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Female Activity Profile of a Polygynous Lizard (Anolis Carolinensis): Evidence of Intersexual Asymmetry

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1. The activity profile of free-ranging individuals should reflect how females and males are optimizing their respective reproductive efforts. By using the polygynous, sexually dimorphic lizard, Anolis carolinensis, we expected to find an example of pronounced intersexual asymmetry in daily activity patterns. 2. In contrast to males who should focus on blocking consexual access to resident females, we expected females to strategically facilitate egg production by minimizing conspicuous and unnecessary behavior, while feeding frequently from a defended food resource optimal to their needs. 3. During a 56 day period, we made a 90 h record of focal animal observations on 22 unmanipulated, reproductive females; then we compared this activity profile to a known profile for males. We found the following. 4. Females were 1.6 times more stationary (82% of day), moved 1/7th the distance (< 40 m/day), displayed at 1/8th the overall rate (< 14 displays/h), and used < 1/35th the number of displays in non-directed advertisement (1.6 displays/h) as males. 5. Females spent 1/30th the time (0.3% of day) in overt defense of territories 1/9th the volume (8 m3) as males. 6. However, both females and males had equivalent feeding rates (1.2 times/h), suggesting that the energetic needs of female egg production and male territorial maintenance are comparable. 7. The small, lightly defended territories and low feeding rates of females (along with their reptilian metabolism and insectivorous diet) indicate that females have a wide latitude in which to meet their energetic costs. 8. As expected, the proportion of intersexual contacts was similar between female and male profiles. Courtship and copulations occupied 3.2% and 3.9% of the females' day, respectively, with copula averaging 26 min in duration. 9. In a female activity profile which de-emphasized conspicuousness, we found little evidence for a pheromone-based alternative to visual signalling. 10. Predation, as an immediate threat to lizard activities, was not seen during three months of observations. We noted only four instances of avoidance behavior.

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0406, USA


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