Environmental heterogeneity on a spatial and temporal scale fosters an organism's capacity to plastically alter coloration. Predation risk might favour the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in colour patterns, as individuals who change colour throughout the year may be able to improve their fitness. Here we explored the change in dorsal pigmentation of the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus campestris) at three time points (March, July, October) during a period of activity in a Mediterranean natural area in southern Italy. Following a preliminary investigation conducted in 2018, during 2019 we captured 135 lizards and took a picture of their ventral scales to check for possible recapture over the sessions. Lizard dorsal pictures were collected in the field with the support of a reference chart to quantitatively estimate chromatic variables (hue, saturation and value). At the same time, pictures of the environmental background were collected. Our findings suggest that lizards are capable of altering dorsal coloration during seasonal change. They vary from green at the onset of spring, to brownish in the middle of summer and to a greyish colour in October. This modification closely followed environmental background colour variation and enhanced lizard crypsis during each season.

Lizard colour plasticity tracks background seasonal changes

Pellitteri Rosa D.
;
Gazzola A.;
2020

Abstract

Environmental heterogeneity on a spatial and temporal scale fosters an organism's capacity to plastically alter coloration. Predation risk might favour the evolution of phenotypic plasticity in colour patterns, as individuals who change colour throughout the year may be able to improve their fitness. Here we explored the change in dorsal pigmentation of the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis siculus campestris) at three time points (March, July, October) during a period of activity in a Mediterranean natural area in southern Italy. Following a preliminary investigation conducted in 2018, during 2019 we captured 135 lizards and took a picture of their ventral scales to check for possible recapture over the sessions. Lizard dorsal pictures were collected in the field with the support of a reference chart to quantitatively estimate chromatic variables (hue, saturation and value). At the same time, pictures of the environmental background were collected. Our findings suggest that lizards are capable of altering dorsal coloration during seasonal change. They vary from green at the onset of spring, to brownish in the middle of summer and to a greyish colour in October. This modification closely followed environmental background colour variation and enhanced lizard crypsis during each season.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/1367442
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