The coloration of animal integuments evolves in response to numerous and often competing selective pressures. Although male-male competition and female mate choice characteristically select for increased color conspicuousness, visibility to predators and to prey often select for decreased conspicuousness. We examined three populations of Common Collared Lizards, Crotaphytus collaris, in Oklahoma (Arcadia Lake, Glass Mountains, Wichita Mountains) that have been argued to differ in the intensity of natural and sexual selection acting on their color patterns. Our study had two main objectives. First, reflectance spectra were obtained from the lizards to replicate and extend previous work on differences in sexual dichromatism among these populations. Second, spectra were gathered on components of visual backgrounds at our study sites to explore the possibility that each population may be relatively cryptic within its own habitat. Results showed that most body regions differed significantly in sexual dichromatism among populations, but in contrast to prior work, no one population was more sexually dichromatic than another for all body regions examined. Males exhibited less overlap in coloration with their visual backgrounds than did females (i.e., males were more conspicuous), and females overlapped more in coloration with rocks than with other visual backgrounds. The population estimated previously to experience the strongest predation pressure (Arcadia Lake) was shown in the present study to be the least conspicuous. Some support also was found for the proposition that even the most “colorful” population (Wichita Mountains) may not always be conspicuous when viewed against its typical visual background.
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