Lizards in love

By Rebecca Baker 28 November 2013
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An AG Society sponsored researcher is discovering the reasons why sleepy lizards don’t sleep around.

WITH THE HELP OF the AG Society, Dr Stephan Leu is investigating why sleepy lizards form long-term monogamous bonds.

This behaviour is most common in bird species but rare among lizards, and Stephan believes the sleepy lizard’s relationships provide a unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of monogamy in terrestrial animals.

“During the mating season both male and female sleepy lizards actively maintain the pair bond and, after the mating season, pair partners appear to stay in loose contact before reuniting the next spring to mate again,” Stephan says.

“We know of some pairs that have been doing this for more than 25 years.”

Stephan and colleagues at Flinders University, Adelaide, plan to use their observations of undisturbed wild lizards to determine whether long-term lizard pairs have stronger pair bonds than new pairs.

“Although we have very detailed observations of the behaviour during one mating season, we still don’t understand what drives long-term monogamy in this species.”