Interpopulational differences in chemical composition and chemosensory recognition of femoral gland secretions of male lizards Podarcis hispanica: Implications for sexual isolation in a species complex

  • Martín J
  • López P
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Molecular studies suggest that the Iberian wall lizard, Podarcis hispanica, forms a species complex with several monophyletic types. In Central Spain two of these types are spatially not isolated and may interact. Sex pheromones are important for species recognition and, thus, differences between lizards' types in chemicals used in intraspecific communication could lead to reproductive isolation. Analyses by GC-MS showed that the femoral gland secretions of adult males of different types were different. Males of one type had twelve exclusive compounds, and proportions of some shared compounds differed. This presumably would reflect selection for the persistency and efficiency of chemical signals in different environments; less volatile compounds and with a higher chemical stability being favoured in the type of lizards inhabiting more humid climatic conditions. Differential tongue-flick rates to scents from femoral secretions indicated that males were able to detect and discriminate between males of different types based on chemical cues alone. In contrast, females detected but did not seem able to discriminate between scents of the two types of males. Thus, multiple factors might be simultaneously acting either against or in favor of speciation, leading, on the one hand, to genetic differences between types, but, on the other hand, probably precluding an effective reproductive isolation in areas where both types of lizards may interact.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chemosensory recognition
  • Femoral glands secretion
  • Lacertids
  • Podarcis hispanica
  • Speciation

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  • José Martín

  • Pilar López

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