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Keywords:

  • alternative reproductive strategies;
  • colour variation;
  • females

Abstract

Within-sex colour variation is a widespread phenomenon in animals that often plays a role in social selection. In males, colour variation is typically associated with the existence of alternative reproductive strategies. Despite ecological conditions theoretically favourable to the emergence of such alternative strategies in females, the social significance of colour variation in females has less commonly been addressed, relative to the attention given to male strategies. In a population of the common lizard, females display three classes of ventral colouration: pale yellow, orange and mixed. These ventral colours are stable through individual's life and maternally heritable. Females of different ventral colourations displayed different responses of clutch size, clutch hatching success and clutch sex-ratio to several individual and environmental parameters. Such reaction patterns might reflect alternative reproductive strategies in females. Spatial heterogeneity and presence of density- and frequency-dependent feedbacks in the environment could allow for the emergence of such alternative strategies in this population and the maintenance of colour variation in females.