Rock, paper, scissors, lizard

Male side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) have three heritable throat colors, associated with three divergent mating strategies. In the 19 December Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zamudio and Sinervo find that these alternative mating strategies can stably coexist because, as in a game of rock, paper, scissors, each strategy has strengths over one other, and weaknesses in the face of the third (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, published online ahead of print). The strategy of bl

William Wells(wells@biotext.com)
Dec 12, 2000

Male side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) have three heritable throat colors, associated with three divergent mating strategies. In the 19 December Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Zamudio and Sinervo find that these alternative mating strategies can stably coexist because, as in a game of rock, paper, scissors, each strategy has strengths over one other, and weaknesses in the face of the third (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, published online ahead of print). The strategy of blue-throated males is to guard their mates faithfully, whereas orange-throated males rely on aggression, and yellow-throated males try to sneak in on females that already have a partner. Zamudio and Sinervo define the success of these strategies by tracking paternity in the lizards using nine microsatellite loci. They find that the faithful blue-throated males sire the most offspring in singly sired clutches, successfully excluding most sneaker yellow-throated males. The...

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