Turn up the colour: male frogs use bright colours to avoid confusion at the pond

Imagine being a frog during the chaos of the breeding season and navigating the gathering crowds around the pond. How do you know who might be a suitable mate let alone whether they are male or female? One solution is colour. If one sex, typically males, is able to turn on some bright colour . . . → Read More: Turn up the colour: male frogs use bright colours to avoid confusion at the pond

Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Note: this blog post is republished from Fonti’s web site

Dominant individuals tend to have greater monopoly over food and mates and therefore have more offspring compared to subordinate individuals. Are these successes attributed to greater cognitive ability? Or are dominant individuals just better at freeloading from their clever subordinate counterparts?

We investigated . . . → Read More: Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Why do winners keep winning?

by Fonti Kar

Animals often find themselves in direct competition with other individuals for resources and mates. Because fighting is costly, many species honestly signal their fighting ability to avoid injury (non-escalated fights). For example, in flat lizards (Platysaurus broadleyi), males can resolve dominance status by displaying their UV-reflective throats to their opponent. . . . → Read More: Why do winners keep winning?

Jacky Dragons have labile displays and don’t discriminate among populations

Marco Barquero’s hard work has paid off! For his PhD, Marco travelled far and wide in his quest to study signalling in Jacky Dragons. Chapter 1 has just been published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Marco studied three populations for which we had genetic data (thanks to Mitzy Pepper and Scott Keogh at . . . → Read More: Jacky Dragons have labile displays and don’t discriminate among populations

Do you study colour? Hot (and warm) off the press!

Interested in colour signals and wondering about the best approaches to researching colour and what you should be reporting? Two recent papers from members of the lab and fellow researchers at Macquarie and elsewhere should help! In the first paper, Kemp et al. provide a framework for studying animal colour. This is not a . . . → Read More: Do you study colour? Hot (and warm) off the press!

A lizard with attitude

Read our latest lab post on CNN iReporter to see video of a Chinese toad-headed agama taking charge of a researcher (name withheld). Note that there are two videos. The better video is the second one, behind the first one (click arrow/number).

Here is a photo of said lizard, a male Phrynocephalus axillaris

. . . → Read More: A lizard with attitude

Photos from field work in Xinjiang Province, China

Take a look at photos from our field work in northern China, where we were studying complex communication in toad-headed agamas (Phrynocephalus).

Our photos are loaded on Flickr, where you can view pictures of our study animals and past field trips. Click on the photo below!

. . . → Read More: Photos from field work in Xinjiang Province, China

Social cues mediate space use in a small Australian elapid snake

Snakes have traditionally been viewed as the poor cousins of lizards where social behaviour is concerned.  This is perhaps an artefact of generally being more cryptic and less tractable than lizards and therefore more difficult to study. Nevertheless, snakes are really just legless lizards and share the same chemosensory system (Jacobsen’s organ for vomerolfaction) . . . → Read More: Social cues mediate space use in a small Australian elapid snake

Better red than dead? Fiery frills win more contests in the Australian Frillneck Lizard

Dave Hamilton, Martin Whiting and Sarah Pryke

Recently, the Pryke Lab published its first paper on a reptile—the iconic Frillneck Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii). Both males and females have frills and until now, the consensus has always been that frills play a role in anti-predator behaviour. Not only does the frill startle a would-be predator, . . . → Read More: Better red than dead? Fiery frills win more contests in the Australian Frillneck Lizard