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143763 - How accurately do behavioural observations predict reproductive success in free-ranging lizards.pdf (453.04 kB)

How accurately do behavioural observations predict reproductive success in free-ranging lizards?

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posted on 2023-05-20, 22:30 authored by Olsson, M, Schwartz, TS, Erik WapstraErik Wapstra, Shine, R
Behavioural ecologists often use data on patterns of male–female association to infer reproductive success of free-ranging animals. For example, a male seen with several females during the mating season is predicted to father more offspring than a male not seen with any females. We explored the putative correlation between this behaviour and actual paternity (as revealed by microsatellite data) from a long-term study on sand lizards (Lacerta agilis), including behavioural observations of 574 adult males and 289 adult females, and paternity assignment of more than 2500 offspring during 1998-2007. The number of males that contributed paternity to a female's clutch was correlated with the number of males seen accompanying her in the field, but not with the number of copulation scars on her body. The number of females that a male accompanied in the field predicted the number of females with whom he fathered offspring, and his annual reproductive success (number of progeny). Although behavioural data explained less than one-third of total variance in reproductive success, our analysis supports the utility of behavioural-ecology studies for predicting paternity in free-ranging reptiles.


Publication title

Biology Letters



Article number









School of Natural Sciences


Royal Society Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

2019 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) ( License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

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  • Open

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Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences

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