The effect of fire on ornamentation in Sceloporus virgatus

Robby Brower


While wildfires are important for some ecosystems, fire is likely a stressful event in the life of an organism. Stress may cause an individual to alter resource allocation such that more energy is invested into survival and maintenance than to reproduction and display. Sceloporus virgatus habitat near Portal, AZ was affected by a wildfire this summer. This study focused on changes in female ornamental display caused by environmental differences between burned and non-burned habitat. Female ornament in burned habitat had significantly reduced brightness, color, and size. The burned site presents S. virgatus with a more stressful environment. S. virgatus must allocate more resources to survival and maintenance than reproduction and displays.