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Temperature-induced colour change varies seasonally in bearded dragon lizards
journal contributionposted on 2018-01-15, 00:00 authored by V Cadena, K Rankin, K R Smith, John EndlerJohn Endler, D Stuart-Fox
The benefits of colour change are expected to vary seasonally because of changes in reproductive activity, temperature and, potentially, predation risk; yet temporal variation in colour change has seldom been examined. We measured colour change in spring and autumn using captive individuals from two differently coloured populations of the central bearded dragon lizard, Pogona vitticeps. We predicted that colour change should be greater in spring than autumn because of the added requirements of reproductive and territorial activity. To elicit colour change in a standardized way, we placed lizards inside temperature-controlled chambers and measured colour at 15, 25, 35 and 40 °C, repeating experiments in spring and autumn. Lizards from both populations changed from dark grey to light yellowish or orange-brown (increasing luminance and saturation) with increasing temperature in both seasons, and both populations changed colour to a similar extent. As predicted, the maximal extent of temperature-induced colour change (in particular, luminance change) was greater in spring than autumn. Our results confirm that temperatureinduced colour change is greater in the peak activity season, probably an adaptation to the greater thermal and/or signalling needs of that time of year.