Evol Ecol Res 3: 889-898 (2001)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Risk of predation may explain the absence of nuptial coloration in the wall lizard, Podarcis muralis

José Martín* and Pilar López

Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain



Males of many species show conspicuous breeding colours that are important in social contexts, whereas other species are dull coloured. Bright coloration may be selected against if it renders males more conspicuous and results in a higher susceptibility to predators. We tested this hypothesis experimentally by manipulating in the field the coloration of the heads of live common wall lizards, Podarcis muralis. Probably because of the small sample size, we did not detect a significant difference in the survivorship of control individuals (painted brown to resemble their natural dull coloration) and that of experimental individuals (painted orange to resemble nuptial coloration of related species). However, within the individuals that survived, experimental lizards suffered a significantly greater loss of relative body mass than controls. We conclude that, even if bright coloration does not increase mortality directly, it may result in increased predation risk, which would force lizards to use anti-predatory behaviours, with their increased associated costs.

Keywords: costs of refuge use, lizards, nuptial coloration, Podarcis muralis, predation risk.

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