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Interpopulation Variation in the Social Organization of Female Collared Lizards, Crotaphytus collaris


Troy A. Baird, Department of Biology, University of Central Oklahoma, 100 N. University Drive, Edmond, OK 73034, USA. E-mail:


We tested the hypotheses that levels of intrasexual aggression and the social structure among neighboring females differed in two central Oklahoma populations of collared lizards, Crotaphytus collaris, and examined the extent to which variation in aggression might be related to differences in the availability of arthropods, elevated perches used by females to scan for prey, and crawlspace refugia. Because both the costs of aggression and access to resources may influence female fitness, we also compared growth and survival rates and the number of clutches produced. At Morningside Farms Ranch (MS), lizards occupied naturally-formed sandstone washes with naturally-sculpted irregular topographies, whereas they inhabited homogenous fields of boulders used to construct flood control spillways at the Arcadia Lake Dam (AL). The frequency of intrasexual aggression was markedly higher at MS, and groups of MS females had social hierarchies structured by size and age with older females defending territories, whereas no such social structure was apparent at AL. Moreover, experimental removal of individuals from female groups resulted in more pronounced changes by the remaining females at MS than at AL. Elevated perches and crawlspace refugia were much less abundant at MS. Arthropod availability was similar at the two sites, but at AL arthropods were clustered near the edges of rock patches where elevated perches overlooking adjacent grassy areas were particularly abundant. MS females showed lower rates of survival, and growth during the first year (when growth is highest) than AL females, whereas the number of clutches produced by females at the two sites was similar. Our results suggest that variation in the availability of perch rocks may have resulted in differences in female social structure at the two sites, and relaxed intrasexual competition for perches may have resulted in higher female fitness at AL.