The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

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pdf 02. Sexual differences in behavioural response to femoral gland pheromones of Acanthodactylus boskianus


Open Access

pp. 225-229
Authors: Khannoon, Eraqi; Breithaupt, Thomas; El-Gendy, Afaf & Hardege, Jörg D.

Abstract: Femoral glands of lizards are holocrine structures that produce compounds used by lizards in intraspecific communication. Here we show that the femoral gland secretions of a lacertid lizard, Acanthodactylus boskianus, contain chemicals that elicit sex-specific responses. These glands are found in both males and female A. boskianus. We used the secretions of both sexes as stimuli presented on cotton swabs. Tongue flicks as well as other behavioural responses of both male and female lizards were recorded over a 60 second interval. Both males and females increased their tongue-flick rate towards male secretions, and some males bit swabs containing male secretions. Only a small proportion of females (25%) showed a similarly aggressive response. Female secretions only elicited elevated tongue-flick frequencies in males and did not elicit any aggressive behaviour. As a result of male–male competition and mate choice, the secretions appear to play a role in male territorial behaviour and in sex recognition, which could, for example, reduce the cost of male–male aggression when competing for females. This work opens future opportunities to test the role of chemical cues in mate choice and dominance hierarchies in lizards.


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