Olfactory discrimination in scat-piling lizards

C. Michael Bull, Clare L. Griffin, Gregory R. Johnston

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Several lizard species in the Australian scincid genus Egernia have been reported to deposit scats in piles. We show that E. striolata, which does produce scat piles, and E. inornata, which does not, can both discriminate their own secretions, on paper substrates, from those of unfamiliar conspecifics. This was indicated by elevated tongue flick rates and more time in contact with the unfamiliar stimulus. This was not just a response to a novel stimulus because the secretions from another species (E. stokesii) elicited lower responses. When scats were presented, only striolata demonstrated discrimination between their own scats and those of unfamiliar conspecifics. This suggests that scats could be used to produce individual signals, perhaps indicating residence status, in scat-piling species. For striolata the signal from scats became less effective as the scats became older, suggesting the need to pile scats to renew the signal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)136-140
    Number of pages5
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Volume10
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999

    Keywords

    • Communication
    • Egernia
    • Lizards
    • Recognition
    • Scats
    • Skinks

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