Movement correlates of lizards’ dorsal pigmentation patterns

Topaz Halperin, Liran Carmel, Dror Hawlena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Understanding the ecological function of an animal's pigmentation pattern is an intriguing research challenge. We used quantitative information on lizard foraging behaviour to search for movement correlates of patterns across taxa. We hypothesized that noticeable longitudinal stripes that enhance escape by motion dazzle are advantageous for mobile foragers that are highly detectable against the stationary background. Cryptic pigmentation patterns are beneficial for less-mobile foragers that rely on camouflage to reduce predation. Using an extensive literature survey and phylogenetically controlled analyses, we found that striped lizards were substantially more mobile than lizards with cryptic patterns. The percentage of time spent moving was the major behavioural index responsible for this difference. We provide empirical support for the hypothesized association between lizard dorsal pigmentation patterns and foraging behaviour. Our simple yet comprehensive explanation may be relevant to many other taxa that present variation in body pigmentation patterns.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)370-376
Number of pages7
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Authors. Functional Ecology © 2016 British Ecological Society


  • antipredator behaviour
  • camouflage
  • cryptic coloration
  • disruptive patterns
  • foraging behaviour
  • longitudinal stripes
  • motion dazzle
  • movement detection
  • pigmentation patterns
  • predation


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