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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

BADGE COLOR AFFECTS RATE OF ATTACK UPON MALE FENCE LIZARDS, SCELOPORUS UNDULATUS

Abstract

In male Eastern Fence Lizards (Sceloporus undulatus), the color of their abdominal badges varies with temperature; as body temperature increases, badge color changes from green to blue. These badges are a component of territorial displays and serve as an honest signal of fighting ability to conspecifics because blue badges correspond with increased performance ability. Because warm lizards are faster and more active, we hypothesized that badge color also serves as a cue to predators of a lizard’s ability to evade capture. My objective was to assess the influence of badge color on predation rates. I placed 11 clay model lizards with green lateral badges and 12 model lizards with blue badges at 23 randomly chosen locations. Models were placed near wooded areas and fences and left in place for twenty-four hours. After retrieval and examination of models for signs of predation, a Chi-square test was used to test the hypothesis of no difference in attack rates on lizards with blue and green badges. Of the lizards that were attacked, 40% were blue and 60% were green. My results suggest that blue lizards are less likely to be attacked as compared with green lizards, but our small sample size precluded our ability to detect a statistical difference.

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