Features that make male fence lizards sexy are resilient to stress

A male fence lizard shows off his blue chin and chest badges. Photo: Tracy Langkilde, Penn State

New paper out in Scientific Reports!

Male fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) have bright blue patches, or “badges”, on their chin and abdomen (see pic). They show these off to rival males and potential mates by doing little push-ups, which allows the blue to be seen from a distance. We tested whether the physiological consequences of stress (in particular, elevation of glucocorticoid hormones) results in a) badges being less colourful, and b) male lizards showing off their badges less (i.e. doing fewer push ups, at elevations where they would be less visible). We found that overall, elevated stress hormone levels did not result in changes to badge colour, or to display behaviour.


Co-author Gail McCormick did an excellent job writing up this research for Penn State Science – check it out here for more information.

We also got some fun coverage in Onward State!


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