What Determines Paternity in Wild Lizards? A Spatiotemporal Analysis of Behavior and Morphology

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Mating behavior in animals can be understood as a sequence of events that begins with individuals encountering one another and ends with the production of offspring. Behavioral descriptions of animal interactions characterize early elements of this sequence, and genetic descriptions use offspring parentage to characterize the final outcome, with behavioral and physiological assessments of mates and mechanisms of copulation and fertilization comprising intermediate steps. However, behavioral and genetic descriptions of mating systems are often inconsistent with one another, complicating expectations for crucial aspects of mating biology, such as the presence of multiple mating. Here, we use behavioral and genetic data from a wild population of the lizard Anolis cristatellus to characterize female multiple mating and the potential for sexual selection through female mate choice in this species. We find that 48% of sampled females bore offspring sired by multiple males. Moreover, spatiotemporal proximity between males and females was associated with whether a male sired a female's offspring, and if yes, how many offspring he sired. Additionally, male body size, but not display behavior, was associated with reproductive outcomes for male-female pairs. While much remains to be learned about the mechanisms of mating and targets of sexual selection in A. cristatellus, it is clear that female multiple mating is a substantial component of this species' mating system in nature.


PMID: 34077526




Oxford University Press

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Integrative & Comparative Biology