Behavioural evolution

Mating system evolution in skinks

Pe_maleLizards are a morphologically diverse group with some 3,000 species in 21 families, yet understanding how sexual selection contributes to the diversity of traits and behaviours remains enigmatic. I used genetic markers to accurately measure male reproductive success in the field and in experimental enclosures, and investigated female mate preference in the lab. Click here to read more

Stapley J, Hayes C., Scott IAW and Keogh JS. (2003). Population genetic differentiation and multiple paternity determined by novel microsatellite markers from the Mountain Log Skink (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii). Molecular Ecology Notes 3: 291-293.

Stapley J and Keogh JS. (2005) Behavioral syndromes influence mating systems: floater pairs of a lizard have heavier offspring. Behavioral Ecology 16:514-520 (pdf).

Stapley J and Keogh JS. (2006) Experimental and molecular evidence that body size and ventral color interact to influence male reproductive success in a lizard. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 18:275-288

Stapley J. (2008) Female mountain log skinks are more likely to mate with males that court more, not males that are dominant. Animal Behaviour 75:529-538 (pdf).

Correlated behaviours, traits and tendencies in skinks

Eul_mumbubPredictions from game theory suggest that individuals should express an optimal phenotype for a given context or environment. However, the ability for an individual to express the optimal phenotype may be constrained by correlated traits, including behaviours. Identifying correlations between behaviours can provide insight into the direct and indirect selection acting on behaviour. I investigated covariation between behaviours across different contexts, and between behaviours and traits in lizards. Click here to read more

Stapley J, and Keogh JS. (2004). Exploratory and anti-predator behaviours differ between territorial and non-territorial male lizards. Animal Behaviour 68: 641-646.

Stapley J. (2006) Individual variation in preferred body temperature covaries with social behaviours and colour in male lizards. Journal of Thermal Biology, 31: 362-369.

Antipredator tactics in the face of multiple predators

Prey often adopt antipredator strategies to reduce the likelihood of predation. Most studies of predator avoidance behaviours have focussed on single-predator systems, despite the fact that prey often are confronted with predator rich environments. In the presence of more than one predator, prey may have to either choose between avoiding one predator over another or adopt a different non-specific straetegy to reduce overall risk. Using the mountain log skink I consider how individuals cope with multiple predators. Click here to read more

Stapley J. 2004. Do mountain log skinks (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) modify their behaviour in the presence of two predators. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 56:185-189.

Stapley J. 2003. Differential avoidance of snake odours by a lizard: evidence for prioritised avoidance based on risk. Ethology 109:785-796.