One component of the courtship display of males in the lizard genus Anolis is the extension and retraction of a large and often colorful throat fan (the dewlap). However, the relative importance of displaying the dewlap during courtship in terms of male mating success is controversial. For this reason, I tested the hypothesis that the display of the male's dewlap during courtship affects male mating success in the lizard Anolis sagrei. The hypothesis was tested in the laboratory by comparing the mating success of experimental males that were surgically prevented from extending their dewlaps to control males that were not prevented from extending their dewlaps. Males in the two treatment groups were housed in individual cages for one week before being used in mating tests. One day prior to the mating tests, I visually exposed a male from each treatment group to the female that it would be paired with during the mating test. On the day of the mating test, each male was removed from its cage and placed into the cage housing the female that it had been able to view. The behavior of the paired males and females was videotaped for two hours. The results did not support the hypothesis. Experimental males did not differ significantly from control males in number of copulations. Moreover, experimental and control males did not differ significantly in the latency period to copulation, copulation duration, or in the sexual receptivity of their female partners. These results provide no evidence that dewlap extension during courtship affects male mating success in Anolis sagrei, at least when males and females are in relatively close physical proximity to each other.
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Vol. 58 • No. 1