Skin Lipids of the Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus): Oleic and Stearic Acids as Potential Indicators of Mate Quality

Faculty Advisor

Weiss, Stacey

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2016


Chemical signaling, in the form of pheromones, is an important mechanism of sexual selection in reptiles, as it provides a means of communicating mate receptivity and quality during the mating season (Martín and López 2011). Previous research on the chemical profile of Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) skin lipids found that lower levels of oleic and stearic acid in female skin lipids correlate with larger egg clutch sizes, suggesting that low levels of the fatty acids might be an attractive mating cue for males (Goldberg et al. submitted). If pheromones are able to communicate mate information, skin lipids sampled through chemosensory behaviors like nose taps, tongue flicks, and air tasting may be acting as an honest signal for mate quality. Behavioral trials were conducted to test male response to oleic and stearic acid ratio manipulated female lizards, as well as to isolated chemical cues, expecting that males would demonstrate more chemosensory behavior in response to low lipid ratio treatment groups than to high lipid ratio treatment groups.


University of Puget Sound

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