Record Details

Carothers, John H
Dominance and competition in an herbivorous lizard
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Journal Article
Ctenosaura hemilopha
A study of social organization in an herbivorous lizard Ctenosaura hemilopha investigated the role of dominance in group member behavior. Attention focused on a very populous (16 ind.) colony to examine causes and effects of crowding with respect to competitive factors. Lizards were colonial, with a top-rank male, one or more adult females, and various subadults and juveniles. Top-rank males defended harems, with colonies female-biased (1:4 in focal colony). Dominance hierarchy was observed, with females more aggressive than males, except for the top-rank male. Group awareness facilitated adaptive responses to threatening dominants and predators. Strong correlations existed among individual size, rank, and aggression. Top-rank male aggressiveness was partly explained by harem defense. Food resource competition, which causes aggression in female insectivorous lizards, did not explain female C. hemilopha behavior. Response to predators, predator fecal pellet analysis, and tail break frequencies implicate crevice escape sites for predator avoidance as a prime controller of social and population structure in these lizards.