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An Analysis of Inter-Population Divergence in Visual Display Behavior of the Green Anole Lizard (Anolis carolinensis)


Duncan J. Irschick, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 310 Dinwiddie Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA. E-mail:


Variation in habitat structure can profoundly affect the evolution of visual displays in animals. We compared the field display behavior of two populations of the green anole lizard (Anolis carolinensis) in Southern Louisiana. These two populations occupy habitats varying markedly in structure (clumped vs. continuous), ecological setting (urban vs. natural) and the degree of male competition and predation. We filmed 56 large adult male lizards during the active spring reproductive period and detected substantial divergence in display behavior between populations. We found that (1) relative dewlap areas did not differ significantly between populations, (2) Tulane anoles spent about twice as much time displaying compared with Good Hope field anoles, although the average display duration did not differ significantly between populations, and (3) the two populations differed significantly in the relative frequency of display types: lizards from the Tulane population used a higher proportion of A and B display types, whereas Good Hope Field anoles used C displays more often. Finally, we detected differences in other aspects of display behavior (use of display modifiers, volley length distributions). We suggest that these display differences may result from differences in green anole male density (three times higher at Tulane), combined with habitat differences (clumped vs. continuous).