Ecology and Evolution of Chemical Communication in Lizards

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Chemical Diversity and Chemical Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2024) | Viewed by 3218

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Viale Taramelli 24, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Interests: reptiles’ ecology and behavior; lizards chemical communication; ecological modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Lizards (non-ophidian squamates) have been used as model species to study chemical communication for over forty years. Despite the excellent results obtained so far, many aspects remain unexplained: from the general understanding about the identity and role of the many chemicals involved to the cognitive processes leading to decode signal information, to the evolutionary drivers shaping the signal design, as well as the integration of the chemical modality with other sensory channels. The goal of this Special Issue is to serve as platform where innovative research focused on lizards’ chemical communication can be shared, from every possible perspective, to take our knowledge a step forward. Notably, evolutionary, ecological, behavioral, cognitive, social, biochemical, and biomolecular approaches are all welcomed. We also encourage the submission of review papers synthetizing the state of the art for a particular issue or taxonomic group.

Dr. Marco Mangiacotti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • lizards
  • chemical communication
  • signal diversity
  • signal design
  • signal evolution
  • multicomponent signaling
  • multimodal signals
  • information coding
  • signal production and perception
  • social signal drivers
  • ecological signal drivers
  • decision-making processes
  • individual recognition

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

12 pages, 1274 KiB  
Article
Multiple Chemical Signals in Male Rock Lizards: Femoral Gland Secretions and Feces May Provide Information on Body Size but Using Different Compounds
by José Martín, Gonzalo Rodríguez-Ruiz and Pilar López
Diversity 2023, 15(7), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070858 - 15 Jul 2023
Viewed by 937
Abstract
Chemosensory communication in lizards may be based on multiple compounds coming from multiple sources. Both secretions from external epidermal glands, and internal cloacal glands and feces are known to convey information (sex, familiarity, body size, etc.) for conspecifics. However, although some compounds in [...] Read more.
Chemosensory communication in lizards may be based on multiple compounds coming from multiple sources. Both secretions from external epidermal glands, and internal cloacal glands and feces are known to convey information (sex, familiarity, body size, etc.) for conspecifics. However, although some compounds in femoral gland secretions have been characterized and their function examined, there is very little information on potential semiochemicals in cloacal products and feces. More importantly, it is not well-known whether the compounds and information from multiple sources are redundant, complementary, or different. We analyzed the lipids in femoral gland secretions and feces of male Carpetan rock lizards (Iberolacerta cyreni) and examined which compounds might predict body size. We found many compounds in feces, mainly steroids, alkanes, and branched alkanes, while the main compounds in femoral secretions were steroids and fatty acids. The body size of males was related to the proportions of some alkanes, alkenes, and terpenoids in feces, while it is related to the proportions of some steroids and fatty acids in femoral secretions. There were also differences in the chemical profiles of feces of males and females, which may allow sex recognition. Therefore, femoral secretions and feces may both inform on males’ sex and body size, but the chemical bases of this information are different depending on the source. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology and Evolution of Chemical Communication in Lizards)
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15 pages, 2005 KiB  
Article
Population Scent Discrimination in Two Liolaemus Lizard Species: Exploring Ethological Isolation
by Antonieta Labra
Diversity 2023, 15(7), 831; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15070831 - 02 Jul 2023
Viewed by 830
Abstract
Reproductive isolating barriers are a crucial element in the speciation process. From these barriers, and among those acting early in the speciation process (premating), the ethological ones can play a pivotal role in isolating populations or closely related species. In fact, the high [...] Read more.
Reproductive isolating barriers are a crucial element in the speciation process. From these barriers, and among those acting early in the speciation process (premating), the ethological ones can play a pivotal role in isolating populations or closely related species. In fact, the high diversity of some taxa has been correlated with an elevated divergence in sexual signals, which facilitates isolation. The present study explored whether variation in chemical signals may contribute to the high diversity of Liolaemus lizards, a genus with more than 290 species. Specifically, population scent discrimination was investigated in two sympatric species, L. tenuis and L. lemniscatus, studying the response of closely located populations most likely from the same genetic lineages. Lizards of both species discriminated between scents of their own and different populations, and in some cases, scents from their own population were preferred. These results suggest a fast evolution of scents and/or of their discrimination, implying that the ethological barriers involving the chemical modality may evolve fast. The studied species, however, differed in the strength of the exhibited population scent discrimination, suggesting that the ethological barriers may evolve at different rates across species. It can be concluded that ethological barriers involving chemical modality may disrupt species’ cohesion, potentially contributing to Liolaemus diversification, in synergy or not with geographical barriers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology and Evolution of Chemical Communication in Lizards)
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13 pages, 1466 KiB  
Article
Sexual Selection and Proteinaceous Diversity in the Femoral Gland Secretions of Lacertid Lizards
by Marco Mangiacotti, Simon Baeckens, Marco Fumagalli, José Martín, Stefano Scali and Roberto Sacchi
Diversity 2023, 15(6), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/d15060777 - 15 Jun 2023
Viewed by 981
Abstract
Sexual selection contributes to the diversity of chemical signals in various animal groups. Lizards are good model species to study how sexual selection shapes signal diversity, as they are a chemically oriented taxonomic group with different levels of social interactions. Many lizard species [...] Read more.
Sexual selection contributes to the diversity of chemical signals in various animal groups. Lizards are good model species to study how sexual selection shapes signal diversity, as they are a chemically oriented taxonomic group with different levels of social interactions. Many lizard species bear epidermal glands secreting a waxy mixture of lipids and proteins, which are used in intraspecific communication. Previous among-species comparative analyses failed to find a relationship between the strength of sexual selection with the composition of the lipid blend in lizards. Here, we extend the investigation to the proteinaceous fraction. By using a phylogenetically informed approach, we correlated the average electrophoretic profiles of the protein from the femoral glands of 36 lacertid lizard species with the level of sexual dimorphism in size and shape, which are proxies for the strength of sexual selection. We found that as sexual size dimorphism advances, five distinct molecular weight regions in the protein profile increased their expression. Using tandem mass spectrometry, we successfully identified one of these five proteins: a carbonic anhydrase—an enzyme catalyzing the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide. Our findings suggest that proteins may be the target of sexual selection, as an active semiochemicals or as a dynamic support to other molecules: sexual selection may act indirectly on semiochemicals (namely lipids) by modifying the matrix (namely proteins). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology and Evolution of Chemical Communication in Lizards)
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