Discrimination of conspecific faecal chemicals and spatial decisions in juvenile Iberian rock lizards (Lacerta monticola)
Source: Acta Ethologica, Volume 11, Number 1, April 2008 , pp. 26-33(8)
Abstract:Faeces play a role in intraspecific chemical communication in many vertebrates, including lizards. Here, we hypothesised that juvenile Iberian rock lizards (Lacerta (=Iberolacerta) monticola) use substrate-borne conspecific faecal chemicals to assess the social environment and base their spatial decisions. To test this hypothesis, we prepared chemical stimuli by dissolving faeces in an organic solvent (dichloromethane, DCM) and conducted chemosensory trials where we quantified latency to the first tongue flick (TF) and TF rates when young captive-borne juveniles were placed in an arena compartment whose substrate was labelled by (1) a control (DCM), (2) their own faecal chemicals, (3) faecal chemicals of another juvenile, (4) faecal chemicals of an adult female or (5) faecal chemicals of an adult male. Following TF observations, we removed a partition that separated the labelled compartment from a chemically unlabelled one, and recorded for 5 min when juveniles first crossed to the unlabelled compartment and total time spent in the labelled compartment. Each juvenile was tested with all stimuli in a randomised order. In addition, juveniles belonged to different families and were unrelated to and unfamiliar with faeces donors. Taken together, TF and spatial responses toward stimuli indicate that juveniles discriminated between faecal chemicals of conspecific juveniles, adult females and males, and that they avoided remaining in substrates labelled by adult male faecal chemicals. We suggest that juveniles assess the social environment based on conspecific faecal chemicals thus avoiding aggression and cannibalistic risks undertaken from encounters with adult males.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Edifício C-2 Campo Grande, Lisboa, 1749-016, Portugal, Email: email@example.com 2: Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, Madrid, 28006, Spain
Publication date: April 2008