Sex, androgens, and whole-organism performance in an Australian lizard

Daniel W A Noble*, Kerry V. Fanson, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Understanding underlying physiological differences between the sexes in circulating androgens and how hormonal variation affects morphology-performance relationships may help clarify the evolution of sexual dimorphism in diverse taxa. Using a widely distributed Australian lizard (Eulamprus quoyii) with weak sexual dimorphism and no dichromatism, we tested whether circulating androgens differed between the sexes and whether they covaried with morphological and performance traits (bite force, sprint speed, endurance). Males had larger head dimensions, stronger bite force, faster sprint speed, and longer endurance compared to females. We found that the sexes did not differ in androgen concentrations and that androgens were weakly associated with both morphological and performance traits. Interestingly, high circulating androgens showed a nonlinear relationship with bite force in males and not females, with this relationship possibly being related to alternative male reproductive tactics. Our results suggest that androgens are not strongly correlated with most performance and morphological traits, although they may play an important organizational role during the development of morphological traits, which could explain the differences in morphology and thus performance between the sexes. Differences in performance between the sexes suggest differential selection on these functional traits between males and females.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)834-849
    Number of pages16
    JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


    • Eulamprus quoyii
    • functional ecology
    • hormones
    • sexual dimorphism
    • squamate
    • water skinks
    • testosterone


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