Faculty Advisor

Weiss, Stacey

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2013


Some animals exhibit certain behavior types consistently between contexts and/or across time. This phenomenon is known as a behavioral syndrome, or personality. Behavioral syndromes have important evolutionary implications because there are times when consistently behaving in a particular way results in fitness constraints, and we are still trying to understand why some animals have them but others don’t. For my work, I sought to determine whether the striped plateau lizard (Sceloporus virgatus), a small lizard native to the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona, demonstrated behavioral syndromes. I collected 14 male lizards and observed their responses to three behavioral assays: a novel object, a novel environment, and a predator threat. Exploration of a novel object, exploration of a novel environment, and boldness in the presence of a predator were not correlated with each other, suggesting these lizards do not exhibit behavioral syndromes. As a result, they can easily adapt to their environment and demonstrate plasticity. At this time, the specific selection pressures that resulted in a lack of behavioral syndromes remains unknown and warrants further investigation.


University of Puget Sound