AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS AND THEIR EFFECT ON RESOURCE USE BY FEMALE SINCELLA LATERALIS

Authors

  • Laura Myers
  • Mark Paulissen Northeastern State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi.13703

Keywords:

Scincella, female, behavior, aggression

Abstract

Studies of aggression and space use are essential to understanding resource use by reptiles, particularly lizards. Research in this area, however, exhibits bias in that the seminal work has been done on (1) species that are highly visible in their habitats (e.g. Iguanians); and (2) males. Studies of secretive species such as skinks and of females are less common. Here, we present results of a lab study of dyadic encounters of adult females of a common North American skink: Scincella lateralis (Little Brown Skink), and compare them to results obtained from an earlier study of adult males of the same species. Female S. lateralis never interacted unless they were within one body length of each other. The most common behavior exhibited was avoidance of one lizard (the subordinate) away from the other lizard (the dominant). As a result, the two lizards spent more time apart than close together and rarely shared the retreat. The larger of the two females was dominant in 9 of 10 trials. Compared to adult males, adult females showed far fewer aggressive behaviors such as lunging or chasing, and never bit each other. Unlike males, however, subordinate female S. lateralis exhibited tail twitching significantly more often than did dominants, suggesting this behavior may be a social signal for females, though the data suggest there may be other possible functions. Despite differences in the frequency of behaviors exhibited, patterns of space use and retreat use were the same in females as they were in males.

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Published

2021-06-09