Variations in chemical sexual signals of Psammodromus algirus lizards along an elevation gradient may reflect altitudinal variation in microclimatic conditions
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Chemical signals used in intraspecific communication are expected to evolve or to show phenotipic plasticity to maximize efficacy in the climatic conditions of a given environment. Elevational environmental gradients in mountains provide a good opportunity to test this hypothesis by examining variation in characteristics of signals in species found across different elevations with different climatic conditions. We analyzed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) the lipophilic fraction of the femoral gland secretions of male lizards Psammodromus algirus (Fam. Lacertidae) from six localities located along a 2200 m elevational gradient at Sierra Nevada Mountains (SE Spain). There was elevational clinal variation in climatic variables, number of femoral pores and in the relative proportions of some classes of compounds (i.e., ethyl esters of fatty acids, waxy esters, and aldehydes) but not others. We discuss how this variation would result in different physicochemical properties of the entire femoral secretion, which might help optimize the efficacy of chemical signals under the particular microclimatic conditions at each elevation.
KeywordsAldehydes Elevational variation Climate Fatty acids Femoral gland secretions Lizards Waxy esters
We thank four anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Financial support was provided by the projects MINECO CGL2009-13185 and CGL2014-53523-P. FJZ-C and SR were supported by two predoctoral fellowships by Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (FPU program). FJZ-C was partly supported by a Ramón Areces Foundation postdoctoral grant.
Compliance with ethical standards
The study was carried out in conformity with the Spanish current laws for lizard collection and detection, according to permits issued by Junta de Andalucía to the authors (references GMN/GyB/JMIF and ENSN/JSG/JEGT/MCF).
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