Discrimination between self-produced pheromones and those produced by individuals of the same sex in the lizard Cordylus cordylus

Cooper Jr. W.E. ; Van Wyk J.H. ; Mouton P.L.F.N. (1999)


Male and female Cordylus cordylus can discriminate between tiles labeled by their own pheromones and tiles labeled by individuals of the same sex, as shown by elevated tongue-flick rates in which the tongue contacts only air above the tiles labeled by other individuals and tongue-flicks in which the tongue contacts the tiles themselves. Potential pheromone sources for these discriminations are the femoral glands, cloacal glands, generation glands, ventral skin, and excretory products. Although studied in few species, pheromonal discriminations between self and other individuals, familiar and unfamiliar individuals, and kin and unrelated individuals appear to be broadly distributed in lizards, occurring in Iguania and in both Gekkonoidea and Scincomorpha within Scleroglossa. Both sexes of C. cordylus defend territories against both sexes. An ability to distinguish pheromones of other individuals of the same sex from self-produced pheromones would allow detection of intruders, but pheromonal discriminations among individuals would be more useful. Adaptive functions of pheromonal discriminations for residents and nonresidents and discriminatory abilities required are discussed. Tongue-flicks touching labeled tiles differed between experimental conditions, suggesting vomerolfactory discrimination, but the interpretation of a similar difference for tongue-flicks that contacted no substrate is problematical. Such air tongue-flicks might indicate sampling of volatile molecules for delivery to the vomeronasal organs. Experiments are needed to conclusively determine the sensory bases of the discriminations and the role of air tongue-flicks.

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