Athletic lizards: Sex, hormones, and physical performance

By Dan Noble

When it comes to animal athletics lizards have been model systems for exploring the relationships between ecology and physical performance. Our two recent papers, one in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and the second in Behavioral Ecology add to the growing list of studies looking at functional performance in lizards.

Eastern water . . . → Read More: Athletic lizards: Sex, hormones, and physical performance

Kalahari tree skinks associate with sociable weaver nests despite African pygmy falcons

In the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa sociable weaver nests are a prominent feature in the landscape. These large nests typically occupy camelthorn trees and provide a refuge to a range of organisms, including Kalahari tree skinks (Trachylepis spilogaster). They also provide refuge for a predator of the skink: the African pygmy falcon, which . . . → Read More: Kalahari tree skinks associate with sociable weaver nests despite African pygmy falcons

Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Followers of the Lizard Lab blog will have read previous reports about relatively rapid learning in lizards. In those studies we typically focused on males or avoided drawing comparisons between the sexes because either the sample size was limited or the focus of the study was different. In our latest paper we decided the . . . → Read More: Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

A lizard’s guide to mating: Alternative reproductive tactics give males an edge in finding the ladies

By Dan Noble

Sexual selection – the differential reproductive success of individuals – is a powerful evolutionary force. Sexual selection can lead to evolution of both beautiful and bizarre phenotypes, such as peacock trains, deer antlers and the complex displays and bright colours of many lizards. Although we see these tell-tail signs of sexual . . . → Read More: A lizard’s guide to mating: Alternative reproductive tactics give males an edge in finding the ladies

Hatchling lizards show their smarts in the classroom

Lizard cognition has experienced something of a resurgence in the last few years. To get up to speed, take a look at a previous post summarising most of the recent published work. In a new paper published online in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Ben Clark, Dan Noble and Martin Whiting from the Lizard Lab . . . → Read More: Hatchling lizards show their smarts in the classroom

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

Tadpoles need friends too!

A major interest in our lab is social behaviour and why animals live in groups. Group formation has evolved numerous times independently in many different species. Understanding the proximate mechanisms and ultimate (evolutionary) factors driving group formation is a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Stephan Leu recently spent time in the Lizard Lab and . . . → Read More: Tadpoles need friends too!

PhD Scholarship opportunity to work on social intelligence in Egernia skinks

Macquarie University is currently offering MQRES scholarships for prospective Australian or NZ PhD students who can commence by 15 December 2012.

We know this is short notice, but the combination of a positive outcome in the latest funding round from the Australian Research Council and the availability of Macquarie-funded PhD scholarships for domestic . . . → Read More: PhD Scholarship opportunity to work on social intelligence in Egernia skinks

Matching colours: lizards prefer mates with similar colours

Guillem Pérez i de Lanuza, Enrique Font and Pau Carazo have just published their work on colour assortative mating in the polymorphic lizard Podarcis muralis in Behavioral Ecology. Pau has previously spent time in our lab and works with us on a number of projects. The following is written by Pau and is a . . . → Read More: Matching colours: lizards prefer mates with similar colours

Sex and the single (yellow) frog

Dynamic (physiological) colour change in the context of sexual selection is almost unstudied in frogs. The whirring tree frog (Litoria revelata) is one of several Australian frogs which use colour during sexual advertisement. Grant Webster’s honours project is to test whether colour is indicative of male quality. To this end, he is measuring the . . . → Read More: Sex and the single (yellow) frog