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Updated: May 19, 2010 16:42 IST

Female lizards adept at enticing males

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A garden lizard. Female sagebrush lizards steeped in ways of courtship are more likely to entice males, a new study says. File Photo: V. Ganesan
The Hindu A garden lizard. Female sagebrush lizards steeped in ways of courtship are more likely to entice males, a new study says. File Photo: V. Ganesan

Female sagebrush lizards steeped in ways of courtship are more likely to entice males, a new study says.

Researchers Mayte Ruiz, Zachary M. Beals and Emilia P. Martins collected 13 male and 26 female sagebrush lizards from the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California and housed them at Indiana University, Bloomington.

During a two-week test period, half of the female lizards were assigned at random to a low-courtship treatment group that received one visit from a robotic male lizard every other day.

The other female lizards were placed in a high-courtship group that saw the robotic male lizard four times daily.

Researchers wanted to see whether the degree of female courtship experience influences male sagebrush lizards’ behaviour.

“Repeated courtship may be beneficial to males if increasing female exposure to courtship displays advanced reproductive state,” the researchers write.

This also may help female lizards produce more fertilised eggs and breed earlier and more often.

After the two weeks of robotic lizard visits, a live male lizard was placed in each female lizard’s terrarium for 30 minutes.

The researchers paired each male sequentially with two females -- one from the low-courtship group and one from the high-courtship group, an Indiana University release said.

“Male lizards distinguished between females that had received more previous courtship and those that had received less,” the researchers write.

They directed “more tongue-flicks and moving more often toward females that had greater courtship experience than when placed with females that received few displays,” the researchers add.

“Although females did not differ in behavioural response due to display treatment, males may detect differences in physiological state of the female and respond accordingly,” the researchers write.

The findings are slated for publication in the June issue of Herpetologica.



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