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

2021 Impact Factor from Clarivate for the Herpetological Journal is 1.194, an increase of 0.332 from 2020.

pdf 03. Dominance and aggression in captive gidgee skinks (Egernia stokesii)


Open Access

pp. 83-92

Authors: Holly Baines, Beatrice Gini, Yu-Mei Chang & Christopher J. Michaels

Abstract: Dominance is a key component of behaviour in many animal species and is central to social system dynamics, resource acquisition, individual fitness and ultimately reproductive success. We investigated dominance interactions and social behaviours in a group of captive juvenile gidgee skinks (Egernia stokesii). We hypothesised that a dominance hierarchy existed within the group, and that aggressive behaviours would be used to secure limited resources, especially high-value
resources. We also hypothesised that body weight would be positively correlated with dominance and aggressive behaviours. We filmed the lizards at 1200 hours for six days a week over the course of eight weeks. We exposed the lizards to three different diets, which consisted of an animal-based diet (crickets), plant-based diet (plants), and a non-feeding control (no food offered). The relative value of these resources to the skinks was established through preference tests. We identified a dominance hierarchy, with dominant individuals exhibiting more aggressive behaviours than subordinates. We found that the frequency of aggressive behaviours was significantly higher in trials where high-valued resources (crickets) were at stake. Furthermore, we found a significant positive correlation between body weight and dominance, bite and chase;
larger individuals were ranked higher in the social hierarchy compared to smaller individuals. Our results demonstrate the importance of morphological and behavioural traits in determining a dominance hierarchy in E. stokesii and how dominance can have ecological advantages.

Keywords: dominance, aggression, body weight, behaviour, interaction, lizards

Download Access:

The latest 8 issues can be downloaded when logged in with a Herpetological Journal subscription membership.

Individual articles can be purchased for download.

Older issues and occasional Open Access articles are available for public download


For further information and submission guidelines please see our Journal Instructions to Authors

pdfBHS Ethics Policy


Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.