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Mol Ecol. 2007 Dec;16(24):5307-15.

Mating system variation and morph fluctuations in a polymorphic lizard.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.


In polymorphic male painted dragon lizards (Ctenophorus pictus), red males win staged contests for females over yellow males, and yellow males have greater success in staged sperm competition trials than red males. This predicts different reproductive strategies in the wild with red males being more coercive or better mate guarders than yellow males. Yellow males would be expected to sire more offspring per copulation and have a greater proportion of offspring from clutches with mixed paternity. However, here we show using microsatellites that the frequency of mixed paternity in the wild is low (< 20% on average across years), that all morphs on average have the same number of offspring sired per year, and that mating system variation (polyandry vs. monandry) is strongly correlated with perch density on male territories. Furthermore, a logistic regression on male successful vs. unsuccessful mate acquisition showed that red males were under negative selection when they dominated the population, which suggests ongoing frequency dependent selection on male colouration.

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