SREL Reprint #0903




Conspecific Odor Detection by the Male Broad-headed Skink, Eumeces laticeps; Effects of Sex and Site of Odor Source and of Male Reproductive Condition

William E. Cooper, Jr., and Laurie J. Vitt



Olfactory stimuli are sufficient for detection and discrimination of sex of conspecific lizards by the male broad-headed skink, Eumeces laticeps, a member of a large group of lizards with pronounced chemosensory abilities, the Autarchoglossa.

The capacity of male broad-headed skinks to detect conspecific odors was assessed by measuring tongue extrusion rates in response to odor stimuli presented on moist cotton applicators.  Tongue-flick rates of postreproductive males were significantly higher for cloacal odors of postreproductive conspecifics of both sexes than to distilled water and higher to female than male odors over the initial 20- and 60-sec intervals.  In a second experiment using testosterone-treated males and estrogen-injected females, testosterone-treated males emitted significantly more tongue flicks to female cloacal odors than to the other stimuli, and two males bit applicators bearing male odors.  Testosterone did not affect reaction to male cloacal odors, but markedly increased tongue-flick rats in response to cloacal odors of estrogen-treated females.  Post-reproductive males also responded to female, but not male, skin odors at a significantly higher rate than to water.  Possible sources and presumed adaptive significance of conspecific odors are discussed.


SREL Reprint #0903

Cooper, W.E., Jr. and L.J. Vitt. 1984. Conspecific odor detection by the male broad-headed skink, Eumeces laticeps: effects of sex and site of odor source and of male reproductive condition. Journal of Experimental Zoology 230:199-209.

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