Large-scale patterns of signal evolution: An interspecific study of Liolaemus lizard headbob displays

Emília P. Martins, Antonieta Labra, Monique Halloy, Julie Tolman Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Although many factors have been shown to influence the evolution of species recognition signals in a wide variety of taxa, it is difficult to draw general conclusions because of fundamental differences in the morphologies and ecologies of the animals considered. In this study, two morphologically and ecologically similar lizard genera (Sceloporus and Liolaemus) are used to provide replicate examples of the evolution of a complex visual display. New data on the headbob displays of 16 Liolaemus species are presented. As in other taxa, phylogenetic analyses show that evolutionary changes in display structure have been rapid, leaving little, if any, phylogenetic information in the display structure. Evolutionary changes in display structure also do not appear to be closely associated with any major habitat characteristics. Despite this rapid evolution, Liolaemus lizards produce headbob displays that are remarkably simple in structure in comparison to those produced by Sceloporus, perhaps compensating for lower complexity by frequent use of other visual displays such as forelimb and tail waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-463
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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