CZAAWE Resource Article

Display and Communications in Reptiles- An Historical Perspective
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
American Zoologist
While the analysis of displays and communication in reptiles has accelerated during the past decade, much of the information has been anecdotal and gathered without focus. There are exceptions. In a few studies releasers and releasing mechanisms were analyzed. However, to date our understanding of the communication repertoire of even the best studied reptile, the lizard Anohs carolinensis is fragmentary. In a few other studies the quantitative nature of variation of particular display movements or acts has been elucidated but there are many more acts for all species whose quantitative and qualitative variations are unknown. Only a very few investigators have postulated adaptive reasons for observed patterns of variation between populations or species. There are no good tests of these hypotheses. Both broad comparative studies that rigorously measure environmental variables and in-depth studies on single populations are badly needed to relieve this deficiency. Despite the lack of good data, recent techniques, some from studies with objectives entirely different from that of studying behavior, are likely to further our knowledge significantly. The projection image technique will enable the rigorous dissection of the signal value of various visually oriented acts. For the study of adaptive significance of display variation within a lizard population is presented an in-depth empirical approach that utilizes demographic analysis, behavioral observation and field experimentation.