Visual and Chemical Signals of Social Communication: Providing the Link to Habitat and Environment (pp. 111-142)
Authors: (Diana K. Hews and Emilia P. Martins, Indiana State University and Indiana University, IN, USA)
Abstract: Social communication in most reptiles involves primarily visual and chemical signals. Components of visual signals include movement (frequency, motor pattern), colors and color patterns, which can convey different information. Chemical signals also can be complex, containing a variety of components conveying information on species identity, sex, reproductive condition, body size, social status, feeding status, and immune status. Fence lizards (Sceloporus) show fascinating variation in color patterning and in motion display patterning, and behavioral responses to conspecific chemicals. Sceloporus are found in an array of habitats in North and Central America, as diverse as shrub-steppe habitat of the Great Basin desert, arid deserts of the American southwest and Mexico, pine-oak woodlands, and semi-deciduous tropical forests. Working at the species level and in a phylogenetic context, we study the evolution of multimodal and multicomponent communicative signals. Centered on behavior, our work examines physiological mechanisms involved in signal production and in signal reception, and the potential costs and benefits of signals and signal components. We are especially interested in endocrine mechanisms and evolutionary variation in these mechanisms. Endocrine mechanisms have the potential to constrain or to facilitate evolution, depending on the degree to which suites of traits are closely coupled to a given endocrine mechanism.