Shared ecological resources such as burrow complexes can set the stage for social groupings and the evolution of more complex social behavior such as parental care. Paternity testing is increasingly revealing cases of kin-based groupings, and lizards may be a good system to inform on the early evolution of sociality. We examined spatial and social organization in the lizard Phrynocephalus vlangalii from China and tested genetic relatedness (based on eight microsatellite DNA loci) between offspring and parents that shared burrow complexes. Adult males and females had similar spatial patterns: they overlapped most with members of the opposite sex and least with their own sex. Males in better body condition overlapped with more females, and both sexes showed high site fidelity. Most lizards used a single burrow, but some individuals used two or three burrows. While high site fidelity is consistent with sociality in lizards, juveniles did not preferentially share burrows with parents, and we documented only a few cases of parent-offspring associations through burrow sharing. We suggest that P. vlangalii conforms to a classical polygynous mating system in which the burrow forms the core of the male's territory and may be offered as an important resource for females, but this remains to be determined.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - 23 Jul 2012|