Information-gathering as a response to manipulated signals in the eastern fence lizard, Sceloporus undulatus

Alison G. Ossip-Drahos, Nicolas J. Berry, Christian M. King, Emilia Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Colorful visual signals are used across taxa to convey information during agonistic male-male encounters, which are important for sexual selection. Although much is known about the information content of color signals, less is known about how receivers interpret this information. Here, using territorial Sceloporus undulatus lizards in a natural setting, we examined receiver response to intruders with different color patch sizes to determine (a) if patch size conveys information assessed during male-male interactions and (b) if/how receivers modulate their behavioral responses to different types of behavioral signals. We found that larger lizards had longer and wider patches, indicating that the size of the patches may be one of the many characteristics of these patches that is used by males to convey information. Free-ranging subject males also produced more headbob displays in response to intruders with small patches and took marginally longer to react to intruders with large patches. However, we found no differences in the aggressiveness of the response (i.e., fullshows). This indicates that patch size conveys information that is employed during territorial disputes, but that the response is primarily in terms of timing, allowing lizards to gather more information about intruders, instead of aggressive behavior (i.e., fullshows).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)684-690
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Sceloporus
  • aggression
  • animal coloration
  • information content
  • lizards
  • visual communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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