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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 28;6(4):e19410. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019410.

Vitamin E supplementation increases the attractiveness of males' scent for female European green lizards.

Author information

1
Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In spite that chemoreception is important in sexual selection for many animals, such as reptiles, the mechanisms that confer reliability to chemical signals are relatively unknown. European green lizards (Lacerta viridis) have substantial amounts of α-tocopherol ( = vitamin E) in their femoral secretions. Because vitamin E is metabolically important and can only be attained from the diet, its secretion is assumed to be costly. However, its role in intraspecific communication is unknown.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

Here, we experimentally show that male European green lizards that received a dietary supplement of vitamin E increased proportions of vitamin E in their femoral secretions. Furthermore, our experiments revealed that females preferred to use areas scent marked by males with experimentally increased vitamin E levels in their secretions. Finally, female preferences were stronger when vitamin E differences between a pair of males' secretions were larger.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Our results demonstrate that female green lizards are able to discriminate between males based on the vitamin E content of the males' femoral secretions. We suggest that the possible cost of allocating vitamin E to secretions, which might be dependent on male quality, may be a mechanism that confers reliability to scent marks of green lizards and allows their evolution as sexual signals.

PMID:
21552540
PMCID:
PMC3084291
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0019410
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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