Abstract

Color and color patterns in animals are important characteristics that bring protection, by dampening the ability of predators that depend on their sight to detect their preys. In lizards, the dorsal coloration plays a key role in communication of intraspecific signals such as social cues. In this study, we evaluated the seasonal changes in the dorsal coloration of the wide foraging lizard A. costata costata, in Tonatico, State of Mexico, Mexico. The seasonal evaluation included: the rainy season from mid June to mid September (can also include the end of May to early October); and the dry season for the rest of the year. The dorsal coloration of A. costata costata and their microhabitats were evaluated by contrasting the color pattern with an identification guide and the control colors of Pantone®, during 11 samplings carried out from February-October 2007. Individual lizard analysis recorded snout-vent length, sex and stage (juveniles and adults). Besides, all animals were marked by toe-clipping, allowing to distinguish dorsal coloration between seasons, sex and stage. A total of 95 lizards were analyzed (53 and 42 for the dry and rainy seasons respectively). We found that the dorsal coloration in A. costata costata varies seasonally and with microhabitats: during the dry season individuals show a brown coloration whereas during the rainy season becomes greener, as the background dominant vegetation color. The results of the present study suggest that: 1) the variation in dorsal coloration in A. costata costata plays an important role in the survival (by cryptic camouflage) of this widely foraging species; 2) the changes in the dorsal coloration of A. costata costata are individually expressed traits, since the coloration of the same lizard is either brown or green depending on the season; and 3) the cryptic functions of the dorsal coloration in widely foraging species have been largely underestimated. We discuss the possible influence of the changes in coloration in an habitat that changes drastically between both dry and rainy seasons.
Keywords: squamata, teiidae, aspidoscelis costata costata, reptilian coloration