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Ontogenetic and sexual variation in the coloration of the lacertid lizards Iberolacerta monticola and Podarcis bocagei. Do the females prefer the greener males?

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image of Animal Biology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Netherlands Journal of Zoology (Vol 18-52).

Changes in the coloration of the lacertid lizards Iberolacerta monticola and Podarcis bocagei with age in populations from NW Spain are described. The onset of sexual maturity in P. bocagei males involves a change in the ventral (yellow) and dorsal (green) colorations, which is different from immature males (dorsally brownish in color). In I. monticola males, the ventral coloration also changes to a deep green when they reach maturity, while the dorsal coloration remains brownish as in the immature specimens. In this species, the green dorsal coloration is acquired gradually after maturity. Only the oldest individuals have a predominantly green dorsal coloration. The differences between the two species in the time males take to acquire the green dorsal coloration could be related to their different longevity. The coloring is acquired gradually in the most long-lived species (I. monticola). A field study was carried out on the behaviour of adult males of I. monticola during the reproductive period. The males with green dorsal coloration were seen to pair with females significantly more frequently than those with the brownish dorsal color. The increase in the green dorsal coloration (conspicuous) with the size and age of the males of this species would appear to have a clear function as an intersexual or intrasexual signal.

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Bioloxía Animal, Bioloxía Vexetal e Ecoloxía, Facultade de Ciencias, Universidade da Coruña, Campus da Zapateira s/n., 15071-A Coruña, Spain;, Email:


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