The territorial behavior of the western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis

L. A. Sheldahl, E. P. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


In this study, we investigated the territorial behavior of Sceloporus occidentalis by focusing on three questions: do individuals of S. occidentalis (1) exhibit site-fidelity, (2) defend the site with aggressive behavior, and (3) maintain exclusive use of the defended area? Spatial distributions and aggressive behavior were studied in two natural populations. We also used a small arena to observe aggressive behavior in paired interactions. Repeatability analysis revealed that individuals of S. occidentalis maintain home ranges of similar areas and in similar locations across years. While lizards use pushup displays to delimit territories that are approximately 61% of total home range area, overt aggression (e.g., chases, bites) was infrequent. Furthermore, lizards maintained exclusive use of only a small proportion of their defended areas. We discuss our results in the context of what it means to be "territorial".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-479
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Behavior
  • Communication
  • Home range
  • Lizard
  • Pushup Display
  • Sceloporus
  • Territory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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