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How accurately do behavioural observations predict reproductive success in free-ranging lizards?


Olsson, M and Schwartz, TS and Wapstra, E and Shine, R, How accurately do behavioural observations predict reproductive success in free-ranging lizards?, Biology Letters, 15, (2) Article 20190030. ISSN 1744-9561 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

2019 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) ( License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

DOI: doi:10.1098/rsbl.2019.0030


Behavioural ecologists often use data on patterns of male–female association to infer reproductive success of free-ranging animals. For example, a male seen with several females during the mating season is predicted to father more offspring than a male not seen with any females. We explored the putative correlation between this behaviour and actual paternity (as revealed by microsatellite data) from a long-term study on sand lizards (Lacerta agilis), including behavioural observations of 574 adult males and 289 adult females, and paternity assignment of more than 2500 offspring during 1998-2007. The number of males that contributed paternity to a female's clutch was correlated with the number of males seen accompanying her in the field, but not with the number of copulation scars on her body. The number of females that a male accompanied in the field predicted the number of females with whom he fathered offspring, and his annual reproductive success (number of progeny). Although behavioural data explained less than one-third of total variance in reproductive success, our analysis supports the utility of behavioural-ecology studies for predicting paternity in free-ranging reptiles.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fitness, Lacertidae, reproductive output, reptile, Sweden
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Evolutionary ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:143763
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-03-31
Last Modified:2021-05-19
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