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Display behaviour and dewlap colour as predictors of contest success in brown anoles

Steffen, John E., Guyer, Craig C.
Biological journal of the Linnean Society 2014 v.111 no.3 pp. 646-655
color, females, lizards, males
Many animals display visual signals in male contests for access to females and territories. These visual signals can be multimodal and stimulate different aspects of a signal receiver's visual system. Over two summers, we tested whether aspects of behaviour and dewlap colour might function as signals that predict contest success when males compete for access to either mates or territories in male brown anole lizards. We found that behaviour (PC1, a correlated composite of head‐bob, push‐up, and dewlap extension frequency) and an aspect of dewlap colour (PC3, the relative amounts of ultraviolet, yellow, orange, and red of the dewlap margin) were retained in the minimum adequate model predicting contest success across years and social contexts. Winners showed significant differences in behaviour (winners displayed more) and dewlap margin PC3 (winners had lower PC3 scores) compared to contest losers. These findings suggest that display behaviour and dewlap colour might serve as signals indicating a male's ability to win contests for access to females and territories.