n African Journal of Herpetology - Interspecific aggression in flat lizards suggests poor species recognition : original article

Volume 49, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2156-4574
  • E-ISSN: 2153-3660
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Mistaken identity and competitive exclusion are two alternative hypotheses proposed to explain interspecific aggression between males. We examined agonistic behaviour in males of two lizard species: and . In each of nine outdoor field enclosures, we maintained a male and a female of both species (i.e., four total) and observed the dominance relationship between the males. Interspecific aggression was intense and was dominant in eight of nine enclosures. Furthermore, males received significantly more bite marks than males during the course of the experiment. To distinguish among the two hypotheses for interspecific aggression (mistaken identity and competitive exclusion), we presented males from sympatry and allopatry with model lizards of both taxa and measured aggressive responses. All trials with models were conducted in field enclosures where males were kept alone for the duration of the experiment. The model experiment revealed that compared to from sympatry, allopatric males were no less aggressive towards the heterospecific model than the conspecific model, a finding that supports the mistaken identity hypothesis. Finally, in the same experiment, we included a supernormal stimulus (pink model) to test if males were simply responding to a brightly coloured male lizard. Males showed some aggression towards the supernormal model, but significantly less than towards the two models ( and ) combined.

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